News / Africa

Hunger Rates for Niger's Children Reach 'Alarming' Levels

Multimedia

Audio

Relief workers in Niger say malnutrition rates for children under age five have reached emergency levels.  A deepening food crisis in the eastern Sahel threatens nearly half of Niger's 14 million people.

Worsening food shortages caused by irregular rainfall and poor harvests in 2009 threaten seven million people in Niger.  Aid workers say the country's children are in particular danger.  Niger is one of the poorest nations in the world and hunger rates already were high among the country's children.

A new government assessment says 17 percent of children under age five suffer from acute malnutrition, up from 12 percent in 2009.  Anything above 15 percent is considered past the emergency threshold.  In some of the most affected regions, child hunger rates have risen to between 19 and 22 percent.  The government survey also found that 3.2 percent of the country's children are severely malnourished and at risk of dying.

Since March, Niger's government has issued urgent calls for national and international aid.  Last month, the government invited the French section of Doctors without Borders to return to Niger, after being kicked out in 2008 by former president Mamadou Tandja.

The French section's president, Marie Pierre Allié, said this authorization to return means the government recognizes the problem of malnutrition and wants to deal with it.  She says the first step to effectively tackling the problem is to recognize that there are hungry children in this country, a fact that just a few years ago was difficult to acknowledge.

Relief workers have said delays in responding to a 2005 food crisis in Niger needlessly cost lives.  Former president Tandja refused to address risks of food crisis during his more than 10 years in office.  Mr. Tandja was ousted by a military coup in February of this year.

Allié says the French section of Doctors Without Borders will partner with a Nigerien organization, Forsani, to work in the Maradi region of south central Niger, specifically in the department of Madarounfa.

Allié said this year there are already a high number of cases of severe malnutrition, signaling a need to treat affected children.  She said her organization also will be distributing nutrient-rich food to children who are not yet sick, to keep them from getting malnourished.  Beginning next year, she said her group will work with health authorities to roll out a systematic prevention program that would provide regular food supplements to at-risk children, from six months to 12 years of age.

Malnutrition can have lasting effects on a child's mental and physical development.

Relief organizations, like the International Federation of the Red Cross, report the food crisis is worse than anticipated.  The Red Cross has called for additional funding to reach and treat at-risk children in Niger.

The United Nations World Food Program has announced it will double the amount of people receiving food aid in Niger to 4.5 million and increase supplementary feeding for children under age two and their families.  The WFP has called for an additional $100-million to ramp up its program.

The food crisis threatens as many 10 million people, across the Sahel region.  Although Niger has been the hardest hit, populations in Chad, Mali, Burkina Faso and Cameroon also are at risk.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs