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

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 Kyiv: Russian Forces Tightening Grip on East

And new United Nations report documents human rights abuses committed by both sides in conflict More

Locust Swarms Fill Antananarivo Skies

FAO-led control efforts halted plague More

South Africa’s Plan to Move Rhinos May Not Stop Poaching

Experts say international coordination needed to follow the money trail and bring down rhino horn kingpins 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.
Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Weeki
X
August 29, 2014 2:18 AM
The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid