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 VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing 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.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid