Food crisis in Niger occurring "out of the public eye"

Jeremy Hance
April 26, 2010

The West African nation of Niger is facing an increasingly alarming food crisis as the UN announced it would double the number of people it was feeding today despite continuing budget shortfalls in its World Food Program (WFP). Failing rains have caused crop yields in Niger to decline, while food prices are rising and livestock prices falling. Officials say these trends have created a perfect-storm for a crisis in Niger, which according to Amadou Sayo from CARE International, is occurring "out of the public eye."

"Niger has been hit extremely hard by the drought and the world has to act to prevent massive human suffering and the loss of a generation," said Josette Sheeran, Executive Director of WFP, in a press release.

The WFP is working to reach 2.3 million people in the Sahel region of Niger, which is particularly hard-hit. The agency warns that 1.5 million children are at risk of malnutrition.

CARE International compares the current situation in Niger to the global food crisis in 2005, which caught many off guard.

"In 2005, all the attention and donor funds were focused on the tsunami in Asia. Today, it’s Haiti," said Sayo, CARE’s Regional Emergency Coordinator, who led CARE’s emergency response in Niger in 2005. "Many governments have generously dedicated enormous resources to help those affected by the Haiti earthquake, but that leaves little left for disasters like the food crisis in Niger."

A survey in January found that half of Niger's 13.5 million people suffer from food insecurities. Globally, a billion people currently suffer from hunger.

Currently the WFP is facing a 133 million US dollar shortfall in its budget for Niger and has asked for 190 million US dollars to help fund continuing food programs there.

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Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com (April 26, 2010).

Food crisis in Niger occurring "out of the public eye" .