Red Cross Red Crescent takes early action to tackle serious food insecurity in Niger

Published: 22 March 2010

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is appealing for 986,862 Swiss francs (USD 932,409 or EUR 677,278) to mitigate the effects of last year’s bad harvest in Niger. According to an assessment conducted by the Niger government, more than half of the country’s 15 million people are facing food shortages due to irregular and poor rainfalls.

The US-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Fewsnet) says the number of malnourished children being admitted to feeding centres was 60 percent greater in January 2010 than at the same time the previous year. Fewsnet predicts a serious food security emergency in Niger this year.

“We are very concerned about the fact that more than half of rural households have no cereals left in stock,” said Mamane Issa, secretary general of the Niger Red Cross. “Rapid assistance for the landless rural poor in particular is important in order to avoid displacements and the sale of community assets.”

The IFRC aims to support the Niger Red Cross in assisting 300,000 people in 120 villages in Diffa, Zinder and Tahoua regions. Cash will be provided to vulnerable people in exchange for work to improve the environment in order to increase agricultural production. Food and seeds will be distributed in collaboration with partners and health centres will be supported to provide approriate nutritional services to affected communities.

“The peak of the food shortage is expected in June. We need to take early action to alleviate the effects by increasing community resilience and by supporting community coping mechanisms,” said Youcef Ait-Chellouche, IFRC Disaster management coordinator for West and Central Africa. “It is also important to support early recovery such as providing seeds for the next planting season in order to avoid a poor harvest this year as well.”

The IFRC released a total of 229,000 Swiss francs (USD 212,828/ EUR 156,142) at the end of February from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund to start the operation. The operation is to be implemented over nine months.

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