News / Africa

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

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

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals 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.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More