News / Africa

Humanitarian Need in Niger Growing

Half the population vulnerable to food shortages; at least $150 million in aid required to meet emergency food needs

Relief officials say Niger needs at least $150 million in international assistance to meet emergency food needs brought on by poor harvests. That estimate is up from $123 million just weeks ago.

With half of Niger's 15 million people already vulnerable to food shortages, relief officials are preparing an emergency action plan to address both general food security and malnutrition among especially vulnerable groups including children and pregnant women.

Niger's new military rulers have spoken publicly about the risk of famine since taking charge in a February coup. That is a clear break from the approach of former president Mamadou Tandja, who remains under house arrest.

But the instability that food shortages can bring in any society could disrupt the military's plans for new elections once politicians agree on a new constitution to replace laws President Tandja used to give himself another three years in office.

Khardiata Lao N'Diaye is the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Niger. She says Niger's military rulers clearly understand the risks.

"The return to democratic institutions is one of the key priorities, but also facing the urgent need of the population is crucial in this process. So that is while the de facto authorities, while they are committed to the political process, have also put the humanitarian issue at the top of their priorities," N'Diaye said.

She says a food-secure electorate will be more engaged in the national dialogue about Niger's future.

"This support will go directly to the population to allow them to participate fully in the democratization process," N'Diaye said.

One of the reasons former president Tandja gave for extending his rule was to complete several large projects including a French uranium mine and a Chinese-financed oil refinery. Despite Niger's mineral wealth, it remains near the bottom of the UN's human development index.

Non-governmental organizations in Niger say the country's new military leaders should review all of the Tandja administration's mineral deals. The military has detained several former ministers and public sector chiefs including those in charge of oil and mines.

N'Diaye says longer-term efforts to more equitably distribute the benefits of the country's mineral resources may help resolve structural issues in agricultural production that contribute to food shortages. But the challenge is feeding people now.

"Niger has the potential to reverse its development trends through good governance in the exploitation of its mine resources. I think here we are talking about mid-term issues. But right now, I think the main focus for the UN is to save lives in Niger," N'Diaye said.

Across the Sahel, the UN estimates that poor farmers in Niger, Chad, and northeastern Mali will likely need food assistance at least through the early harvests in August.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid