News / Africa

Red Cross Calls for Aid to Combat Severe Food Crisis in Niger

TEXT SIZE - +

The International Federation of the Red Cross is asking for $1 million in international assistance to head off a severe food crisis in Niger that threatens more than seven million people.  

As many as 10 million people across the Sahel region in West Africa are facing food shortages in coming months caused by irregular rains and poor harvests in 2009.

Aid workers say Niger will be the hardest hit with more than half of its 15 million people at risk, most of whom live on less than one dollar a day.

The International Federation of the Red Cross is calling for almost one million dollars to assist 300,000 villagers in the country's most vulnerable areas; the Diffa, Zinder and Tahoua regions along the country's southeastern border.

Red Cross regional representative for Sahel countries, Daniel Sayi, says it is important to act now to head off a repeat of the 2005 food crisis in Niger, during which aid workers say delays in humanitarian relief led to needless deaths.

Sayi says in 2005, humanitarian response to the food crisis did not begin until after images of severely malnourished children in Niger appeared in international media.  He says today, in 2010, we have not yet reached this point, but all the warning signs for a similar severe crisis are there once this food shortage hits its peak in June, or possibly before.  He says we should not wait for a repeat of the images of 2005 in June before we act.

Some of the first warning signs came in mid-December when a study by Niger's government revealed that by the end of January, more than half of rural households would have already used up their stores of grain.  

The U.S. funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network says this January the number of malnourished children admitted to feeding centers in Niger jumped by 60 percent, compared to the same month last year.

Red Cross Disaster Management Coordinator for West and Central Africa Youcef Ait-Chellouche, says it is alarming that families were employing these emergency coping mechanisms as early as December, only months after the October harvest.

"Now already 20 percent of the population have exhausted their stocks, and they are trying to survive by sending people, part of their family, to other places to work and bring money back or by selling what is not necessary," said Youcef Ait-Chellouche.

Ait-Chellouche says even then it is the rich who can afford to travel via buses and taxis in search of food.

"The poorest in general stay where they are, and they try to face the situation as best they can, in general with a lot of mortality," said Ait-Chellouche.

In February, the International Federation of the Red Cross launched its nine-month relief operation with $200,000 of its own funds to support nutritional centers, distribute seeds and finance cash-for-work projects to boost food production in 120 villages in the three most at-risk regions along the country's southeastern border.

Ait-Chellouche says it is a question of intervening early in the crisis to prevent poor families from selling their belongings and leaving their communities in search of food.

In the long term, he says it will be important to introduce irrigation and new farming methods to make Niger's agricultural production less vulnerable to climate variability, like poor rainfall, and prevent future food shortages.   

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid