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

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
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 Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
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 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 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.

VOA Blogs