News / Africa

International Aid Group Calls for Urgent Action in Niger Food Crisis

Women wait to receive baby food in the village of Koleram, southern Niger, during the launch of a UN-backed blanket feeding operation aimed at fighting malnutrition among children under the age of two, 28 Apr 2010
Women wait to receive baby food in the village of Koleram, southern Niger, during the launch of a UN-backed blanket feeding operation aimed at fighting malnutrition among children under the age of two, 28 Apr 2010
TEXT SIZE - +

The U.N. World Food Program has extended food aid to eight million people in Niger, but aid workers say the program still needs funding and assistance may come too late for some families hit by severe food shortages.

International aid workers say a deepening food crisis is threatening 10 million people across the eastern Sahel, including seven million people in Niger.

The U.N. World Food Program announced last week that it is ramping up food aid to reach eight million people in Niger in the next six months at a cost of more than $200 million.

International aid agency, Oxfam, supports the scale-up and has called for "urgent action" from the international community.

Oxfam's Niger representative, Etienne Du Vachat, says the World Food Program's increase is certainly welcomed, but it is late in coming and still needs to be financed.  In Niger, he says the WFP still needs $145 million in funding.

Oxfam has been working with at-risk populations in Niger since February.

Du Vachat says the country is now entering what is traditionally its lean season, the most difficult time of any year just before the harvest.

Du Vachat says this year the lean season began particularly early in February or March for many families, and the harvest is still one or two months away.  He says the price of grain is at its peak, and many families do not have any remaining reserves or enough money to buy grain at the high market prices.  He says grass has not grown back in many areas, so animals continue to die.

Du Vachat says the World Food Program scale-up in Niger is ambitious but "pockets of vulnerability" remain.

Du Vachat says families with children between six months and two years of age are prioritized in the WFP food distribution.  Those families receive special food for children and additional food for the entire family to ensure that the children's rations are not eaten by other members of the family.  Du Vachat says families without children under two years of age remain vulnerable.

Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world, and hunger rates were already high there, particularly among the country's children.

During harvest time, Du Vachat said parents are too busy in the fields to bring their children to nutrition centers.  With the current food crisis, he said Oxfam worries that health centers could be overwhelmed with malnourished children at the end of August when harvesting is done.

The current food crisis is a result of irregular rainfall and poor harvests in 2009.

Du Vachat says the first signs of alarm showed up in November 2009 and the crisis began to hit its peak in March for many households.  He says the international community has been slow in responding and now the harvests are almost here.  All aid that arrives after the harvest will still be needed, but he says it may be too late for some families.

Though Niger has been the hardest hit by food shortages, populations in Chad, Mali, Burkina Faso and Cameroon are also at risk.

Du Vachat said emergency humanitarian aid is imperative, but as the region emerges from this crisis, the international community must focus on finding long-term solutions to recurring food shortages in the Sahel.  

You May Like

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid