- As the food crisis in Niger is "slipping down the international agenda," donations are getting sparser. Now, the World Food Programme (WFP) warns of "a second" year of food crisis in Niger and by December, food supplies will be depleted. "It will take only the slightest adversity to push families over the edge again," local WFP representatives warn.
Unless the international community renews its commitment to deal with the consequences of this year's food crisis in Niger, including prevailing high levels of malnutrition among children, the country faces "a second successive year of extreme suffering and hardship," the UN's food agency warned today.
A recently completed food security assessment by WFP across the worst affected areas in Niger revealed "a worrying picture of poverty, debt and widespread food insecurity."
Over 1.2 million people are estimated to have cereal stocks sufficient for only three months, while a further two million have stocks that will last a maximum of five months. Nearly two million more face a precarious year struggling to maintain what are already borderline livelihoods, the survey found.
Without food aid, there is no quick way out of the crisis. Even if rains are sufficient, locusts stay away, harvests are good and food prices remain stable next year, many Nigeriens have already stretched their ability to deal with difficult times to the limit. Their survival strategies will be less reliable and less sustainable in 2006.
WFP Niger Country Director, Gian Carlo Cirri, today warned that a second food crisis is about to hit Niger. "Many people have used every available means to get them through this year and the harvests will bring only a brief respite. The international community must renew its efforts to help them through what remains a very difficult time," Mr Cirri said.
"If people cannot afford to buy the food they need again next year it is very possible that they will face a similar situation to this year. Niger's biggest problem is one of poverty - when survival strategies are exhausted and all purchasing power is lost, disaster looms," added Mr Cirri.
To meet the most immediate requirements, WFP has now extended its current emergency operation until the end of March next year. But the UN agency faces a shortfall in donations. But "Niger has sadly slipped down the international agenda, which could have disastrous consequences for those who are still suffering," Mr Cirri lamented.
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