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Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Questions and Answers on Niger and Food insecurity

Niger is one of the countries of the Sahel region, which also covers parts of Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, northern Nigeria, Chad, Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea. Many of the countries in the area are threatened by food insecurity, especially Niger and Chad, whose governments have declared a state of emergency and asked for international assistance.

What is the current situation in Niger?

Out of a total population of 15 million, 3.3 million are considered severely food insecure, and a further 3.8 million moderately food insecure. It is estimated that there are 378,000 severely acutely malnourished  children under 5 years of age, a further 1.2 million children moderately acutely malnourished  and 345,000 pregnant and lactating women at risk of severe acute malnutrition.

How did this happen?

The food crisis in the entire Sahel region has been deepening due to the shortfall in food production resulting from erratic rainfall at the end of 2009. In Niger a 30% (=150,000 tons of crops such as millet, sorghum, cassava and rice) decrease was reported, and this was probably a very conservative figure. This has had a dramatic impact on the livelihoods and coping mechanisms of the traditional pastoralists. It has aggravated the already difficult situation caused by continued high food prices and limited wage earning opportunities. The 70% shortage in fodder in Niger is also worrying since livestock production supports one third of the population.

Source: European Commission