Niger‘s Desperate Needs: Calls for 60,000 Tons of Food and How You Can Contribute


Drought and the worst invasion of crop-devouring locusts in 5 years have compounded an already fragile food situation in Niger, threatening up to 3.5 million people, more than a third of the total population.

The following is from several UN press releases of the last few days detailing the harrowing situation in Niger followed by a list of some of the organizations to which you can contribute:


UN-News, New York, Aug  4 2005 -  Drought and the worst invasion of crop-devouring locusts in 5 years have compounded an already fragile food situation in Niger, threatening up to 3.5 million people, more than a third of the total population.  With Niger's hunger crisis worsening, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has received just $20.6 million, or 36 per cent, of the $57.6 million it requires to look after some 2.5 million of the most vulnerable people in the world's second poorest country where a further 58,939 tons of food are urgently needed. Additional donor support will avoid immediate and future shortfalls.

"The urgent provision of food is crucial; if assistance is not provided quickly, WFP expects to see a massive liquidation of property and livestock with a severe impact on the current agricultural season and thus the long-term well-being of the population, with loss of life among the most vulnerable groups," it said in its latest update today. it added, in a country where WFP is providing general food rations to all people in the five affected zones for August and September. Previously, it had been delivering assistance through feeding centres for malnourished children. In addition, some 480,000 children under five and pregnant and lactating women will receive a supplementary food ration.

WFP is now airlifting 186 tons of corn soya blend and 100 tons of high energy biscuits to Niger.

A recent outpouring from donors has enabled purchases of various commodities in the region and some are now being distributed or are in transit. In an effort to move food fast, WFP has conducted several borrowings from other WFP programmes in the region.

It is in the process of rerouting vessels to discharge commodities, and has made a fourth allocation of $10 million from emergency funding to buy cereals which are now available in the Port of Lomé in Togo.

Despite these efforts, shortages of almost all commodities are expected in the next five months. To avert such shortfalls during August, WFP is speeding up the discharge and delivery of Niger-bound commodities in or approaching ports in the region.

Five mobile warehouses and three generators have been airlifted from WFP's logistics base in Brindisi, Italy. Staffing has been greatly reinforced with 44 international posts planned. Of these, 21 staff are currently in place and nine are arriving in the coming days.

Also today the WFP welcomed a cash donation of $1.8 million cash donation from Turkey for its operations in Niger, Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

"This is an incredible donation from a country that continues to generously support WFP's work," Deputy Executive Director for Fundraising and Communications John Powell said.

For more details go to UN News Centre at

On Front Line Of Niger's War On Hunger, Un Boosts Emergency Medical Response ,New York, Aug  3 2005 -
On the front line of the war against hunger in Niger today 65 children were brought in to just one United Nations-supported therapeutic feeding centre during the morning hours alone. In the intensive care ward nine-month-olds weigh the same as new-borns, others are so weak they have no energy left to cry.

"Their silence is deafening," says Dr Kadri Koda, one of over 80 Nigerien health workers being trained in the management of severe and moderate under-nutrition of children in a joint initiative conducted by the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the Ministry of Public Health of Niger.

"It's only when they start to cry that we are happy because it means they are gaining strength. It's very heart-wrenching, but it is also good to know that we can save so many lives using the latest techniques," he adds. "In the intensive ward, there are severely under-nourished children also suffering from malaria, bloody diarrhoea, pneumonia and anaemia."

Dr. Kadri is learning about the identification, prevention and most up-to-date treatment of under-nutrition with hands-on training at the UNICEF-supported therapeutic feeding centre in Aguie, Maradi Region, epicentre of the crisis afflicting the world's second most impoverished country following a drought and the worst invasion of crop-devouring locusts in 15 years.

"On top of the practical and theoretical aspects, the training is very enriching because we have health workers from various regions of Niger with all types of experience," he says. "Some are doctors, others nurses, some are mid-wives and others are health administrators.

"We're sharing our years of experience, while also learning the latest techniques and approaches to managing severe and moderate under-nutrition. It's important for health workers in Niger to be updated with the latest information and that was really made clear at the therapeutic feeding centre today."

In total, over 80 Nigerien health workers will be trained in Maradi in just three weeks by a Ministry medical doctor and a UNICEF-Niger nutritionist.

The training is not only essential in saving the lives of children in the midst of this emergency, but it also provides a sustainable, national approach to early identification and prevention of severe and moderate under-nutrition in children throughout the country, UNICEF says.

Using the "training of trainers cascade approach," key national health workers are trained to carry life-saving techniques back to their regions. This is one of the fastest ways to create sustainable, national health networks. All participants are national health staff, working for government, national and international non-governmental organizations as doctors, paediatricians, nurses, health administrators or mid-wives.

It is not known how many children have so far died in Niger's present crisis but UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland says it is already into the thousands in what was a largely preventable disaster had the world paid attention when the alarm was first raised in November, before a neglected emergency turned into full-blown catastrophe.

For more details go to UN News Centre at


Intercultural Dialogue Necessary In Fight Against Hunger, Says Un Food Agency, New York, Aug  5 2005 - Intercultural exchanges between the world’s many peoples are essential to winning the battle against hunger and ecological devastation, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today in announcing the theme of this year's World Food Day.       

The theme - Agriculture and Intercultural Dialogue - recalls the contribution of different cultures to world agriculture and argues that sincere intercultural dialogue is a precondition for progress against hunger and environmental degradation, the agency stressed in a news release.        

World Food Day is celebrated 16 October every year to mark the day on which FAO was founded in 1945 and this year will be celebrated at ceremonies at FAO Headquarters in Rome and in more than 150 countries.       

Throughout history, the intercultural movement of crops and livestock breeds has revolutionized diets and reduced poverty. For example, the potato, which can be grown quickly and economically, was introduced to northern Europe from South America in the 16th century helping free the masses from longstanding hunger.        

Maize, which is originally from the Americas, now feeds much of Africa. Europe and Africa contributed their plants to the Americas, including coffee, grapes and wheat. The introduction of the camel to Africa from Arabia allowed people to live and travel in more extreme environments and added protein from meat and milk to diets.        

With agriculture, intercultural dialogue takes place at meetings and trade negotiations and every time an expert from one culture shows another something new in the laboratory or field.       

“Intercultural dialogue between developing countries facing similar food and agriculture problems is an important way of sharing expertise and technologies,” FAO said. South-south cooperation in the form of sharing expertise and technologies has resulted in the transfer of many solutions suited to local conditions.        

The agency also stressed the need for fairer access for developing countries to the rich nations’ markets. “Poor farmers cannot compete in an international marketplace if their goods are shut out of richer countries, while subsidized farm products from industrialized countries are sold at or even below production cost in poor countries," it said.       

Many developing countries want to produce for export purposes, but will not reach their full potential until further dialogue among nations leads to a fairer trading system.   

For more details go to UN News Centre at


WFP’s Niger Appeal Triples To Help 2.5 Million People Facing Extreme Hunger,

Rome, Italy, 3 August 2005 -  The United Nations World Food Programme today tripled its emergency appeal for Niger’s escalating food crisis, warning the international community that more food aid would be needed to save 2.5 million people from extreme hunger and malnutrition.

Niger’s so-called lean season (April-October), combined with serious food shortages due to last year’s drought and locust invasion, have obliged WFP to revise the cost of its life-saving operation from US$16 million to US$57.6 million – the third adjustment in six months.

Under the expanded operation, WFP will target 2.5 million severely hungry people in southern Niger – the epicenter of the crisis – providing supplementary food to children and mothers and family rations until the end of the lean season. Rations for three months following the October harvest are provided for a further 500,000 people to serve as a safety net in case of need.

“With the situation deteriorating over recent weeks, our main objective is to save lives,” said James Morris, WFP’s Executive Director. “Whole families are suffering because of a desperate shortage of food, which has forced them to eat just one meal a day of maize, leaves or wild fruits.”

WFP is not only doubling the number of people receiving food assistance, but also giving them a wider variety of nutritious foods. By building up the blanket feeding of children under five, as well as providing supplementary feeding to pregnant and lactating mothers, WFP aims to bring down acute levels of malnutrition – exceeding 20 percent in many areas.

Total admissions to therapeutic feeding centers this year have nearly quadrupled compared with 2004, with some 11,000 children having received treatment.

There is only a very short window of opportunity in which to move food quickly to those who need it most – before the height of the rainy season makes access difficult. The need to hasten the operation has significantly increased transport costs.

After a slow start, the international community has rallied over the past two weeks to support the world’s second poorest country with some generous donations; WFP’s previous request for US$16 million is now fully funded.

But donors have been playing catch-up with the tragedy unfolding in Niger ever since failing to heed warnings from WFP, other UN agencies and non-governmental organisations at the start of the year, when Niger faced one of its worst ever hunger crises.

“If donors had responded earlier, the cost of this operation would be hugely reduced, as the situation has deteriorated severely over recent months,” Morris said.

Donations only started flowing in after television pictures showed heart-rending images of Niger’s hunger from feeding centers in Maradi in southern Niger. The television coverage came soon after the commitments made on Africa’s behalf at the G8 summit and the publicity given to the continent’s plight at the Live8 concerts.

“This was a desperately needed wake-up call, but the response we have received so far is encouraging. We can still save lives,” Morris said.

* * *

WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency: each year, we give food to an average of 90 million poor people to meet their nutritional needs, including 56 million hungry children, in at least 80 of the world's poorest countries. WFP -- We Feed People.

WFP Global School Feeding Campaign – For just 19 US cents a day, you can help WFP give children in poor countries a healthy meal at school – a gift of hope for a brighter future.

Niger needs your help. To make an online donation, visit
For all the latest updates on WFP’s emergency operation in
Niger, visit


For more information please contact (email address:

Caroline Hurford
Tel. +39-06-65132430
Mob +39-348 1325018

Stefanie Savariaud
Tel. +227 722320
Mob +227 403947

Simon Pluess
Tel. +41-22-9178564
Mob. +41-797743821

Jennifer Parmelee
Tel. +1-202-6530010
Mob. +1-2024223383

Gregory Barrow
Tel. +44-20-72409001
Mob +44-7968-008474


Nuts And Bolts In Un's War On Hunger In Niger: Education Centres, Cereal Banks, New York, August 4, 2005 - From education programmes on the importance of breastfeeding to cereal banks, the United Nations is looking to longer-term solutions on the front line of the war against hunger in Niger as it grapples with both the immediate food crisis and the groundwork for preventing a recurrence.

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) is not only supporting deliveries of emergency food and medical supplies but running education programmes to teach the importance of exclusive breastfeeding of children up to the age of six months.

Such feeding avoids potential contamination from water-mixed formulas, also transfers to the infant the mother's immunity to many diseases, and is still not widely practiced in Niger, where drought and the worst invasion of crop-devouring locusts have compounded an already fragile food situation, threatening up to 3.5 million people, more than a third of the total population.

The agency is also supporting general community education about nutrition. The goal is to enable "the awareness, identification, prevention and eventual treatment of malnutrition by the community themselves," says UNICEF Programme Officer Enrico Leonardi.

UNICEF, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) are setting up cereal banks in many villages throughout the country. The grain is stored in small warehouses, not just to feed families during the current crisis, but also to provide the beginnings of a longer-term solution.

Cereal banks are run by the villagers themselves. They sell off the cereal, often at less than the market price, in the months before the harvest, when food is scarce and prices are high. The money is then spent on restocking the bank at harvest time when the cereal is cheaper.

"Every year in Niger there's a four month period when there's not enough to eat," says Arsene Azandossessi, Chief of UNICEF's office in Maradi. But a properly managed cereal bank will enable a community to deal with a food shortage. "When we set up a cereal bank, it is to make the village self-supporting."

For more details go to UN News Centre at


Canadian government donates $10 million (Cdn) to UNICEF Niger,


5 August 2005 - Today in Maradi, Niger, the Honorable Aileen Carroll, Minister of International Cooperation, announced that Canada, through the Canadian International Development Agency, will increase its contribution by $10 million (Cdn) to fight under-nutrition and hunger in the Sahel region of Africa, including Niger. In the presence of UNICEF Deputy Executive Director, Rima Salah, the Minister said that $6 million (Cdn) of that money would go to support UNICEF’s immediate aim of treating an estimated 32,000 suffering from severe malnutrition and 160,000 children suffering from moderate malnutrition in Niger.

 “UNICEF deeply appreciates this generous donation by the Canadian government and the Canadian people”, said Rima Salah. “These funds will go a long way in helping UNICEF to save the lives of children in Niger who are in desperate need of immediate aid. “ The announcement was made during a joint visit by the Canadian Minister and UNICEF’s Deputy Executive Director to a UNICEF-supported therapeutic feeding center in Maradi and a UNICEF-supported, community-managed cereal bank distribution project in Garin Goulbi village, Maradi Region.  

The original UN Flash Appeal, issued in May 2005, mobilized US$9 million, mainly for food aid, nutrition and agricultural activities. UNICEF Niger has currently allocated US $3,857,000 to respond to the crisis. UNICEF is working in collaboration with the Government, NGO partners - Médecins sans Frontières/France/Suisse, World Vision, SIM, BALD, ACF, HKI, AMA, Save the Children, Red Cross, Concern, Islamic Relief, Goal, and Plan International - and sister UN agencies WFP, FAO, UNFPA, & WHO to treat children with severe & moderate under-nutrition, to promote improved child feeding practices, and to reduce the effects of household food insecurity.

UNICEF has delivered over 41 tons of therapeutic milk, and 6.7 tons of Plumpy’nut® to the government and NGO partners.  Therapeutic food purchases by UNICEF are supporting 10 fixed therapeutic feeding centers and 21 outreach therapeutic centers. 190 tons of UNIMIX are already delivered to the Government and NGO partners. In collaboration with WFP 187 tons of corn-soy blend, and 614 tons of cereals have been delivered to 62 affected villages which have benefited an estimated 200,000 persons, including 40,000 children under the age of five.  900 additional tons are expected to be delivered to 90 additional villages.  Approximately 6 tons of seeds (corn, wheat, and potato) have been provided.

Scaling Up UNICEF Response in Niger

UNICEF’s immediate aims are:

  • To treat an estimated 32,000 children suffering from severe under-nutrition and 160,000 children suffering from moderate under-nutrition, so as to prevent children currently suffering from moderate under-nutrition from slipping into severe under-nutrition, and to prevent children cured from under-nutrition in therapeutic feeding centers from slipping back to under-nutrition. 
  • To reinforce the capacity of the government agencies and communities to deal with the immediate and recurrent food crises in Niger.
  • To assure adequate health (e.g. measles immunization and vitamin A for all malnourished children, malaria prevention, etc.); water/sanitation (e.g. assure adequate water & sanitation facilities, provide potable water, etc.); and, protection (e.g. sensitization campaigns to avoid risks of sexual exploitation and abuse of minors & women), services for affected populations.

For more information, please contact:

Mr Aboudou Karimou Adjibade, UNICEF Niger Representative
Tel: (227) 725-369 or (227) 995-262; email:

Mr Isselmou Ould Boukhary, UNICEF Niger Program Coordinator
Tel: (227) 722-841 or (227) 962-160; email:

Mr Kent Page, UNICEF Regional Communication Officer
Tel: (227) 722-840 or (227) 532-129; email:

By Kent Page


MARADI, Niger, 1 August 2005 – Her face distraught, her gaunt body sweating in the midday heat, Indo arrives at a UNICEF-supported therapeutic feeding centre in this community in southern Niger. Indo is carrying her 21-month old baby girl, Salima, in her arms.


Salima’s arms and legs hang limply, her spine and ribs protruding prominently under her skin. She has barely enough energy to nurse at her mother’s breast for a few seconds before her heads falls back over her shoulders, her eyes closed.

“It’s been two years that we’ve not been able to grow anything,” says Indo. “It’s because there’s been no rain. We have no food anymore.”


Indo is 28. Her face plainly shows the stress and exhaustion she is struggling with, having walked alone for two days straight from her village, Koumaji, to Maradi. She carried Salima in her arms the whole way, a distance of 35 km, in the relentless sun. They had nothing to eat on the way.


Salima is the youngest and the weakest of Indo’s five children. “I have left my other children at home with my mother,” says Indo. “My mother is old and weak but she will have to take care of them. I don’t know how long we’ll have to be here. I think Salima is very sick.”


The road to recovery


It’s not Salima’s first time to Maradi. Indo brought her here six months ago, when Salima was even weaker than she is now. The food crisis in Niger has been going on for some time, affecting hundreds of thousands of children like Salima.

“The only thing I can give her is some millet porridge, maybe one or two times a day. There’s no milk. It’s not enough. I’m scared for Salima,” Indo says, her voice breaking.

A few minutes later, Salima is weighed, her mid-upper arm circumference measured and her height taken on a measuring board. Everything is recorded on her chart, although Salima is oblivious to it all.

But it seems that she has arrived in time. Salima is now getting the care and assistance she needs at this overworked therapeutic feeding centre run by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). The centre is filled with hundreds of other children, many of whom were in even worse condition than Salima when they arrived. The children here are fortunate: They are now on the road to recovering from severe malnutrition.


UNICEF’s role


UNICEF Niger is assisting in the care and treatment of children suffering severe and moderate malnutrition and in reducing the effects of household food insecurity in Niger through a variety of activities. These include providing 10 fixed therapeutic feeding centres and 21 outreach therapeutic centres with essential supplies, including therapeutic milk and food, essential drugs, oral rehydration salts, deworming tablets, growth measuring boards, weighing scales, and other items.


In collaboration with the World Food Programme, 614 tons of cereals have been delivered to 62 affected villages, benefiting an estimated 200,000 people, including 40,000 children under five. About 900 additional tons of cereals are being delivered to 90 additional villages, and approximately six tons of seed (corn, wheat, potato) have also been provided.


UNICEF is training 85 national health workers, including doctors, nurses, mid-wives and health administrators, in responding to severe and moderate malnutrition.


UNICEF is urgently appealing for $14.6 million to boost its response in Niger. UNICEF’s immediate aims are to:

  • Treat an estimated 32,000 children suffering from severe malnutrition and 160,000 children suffering from moderate malnutrition.
  • Reinforce the capacity of the government agencies and communities to deal with the immediate and recurrent food crises in Niger.
  • Assure adequate services for affected populations in Niger in health (e.g. measles immunization and vitamin A for all malnourished children, malaria prevention, etc.); water/sanitation (e.g. assure adequate water and sanitation facilities, provide potable water, etc.); and protection (e.g. sensitization campaigns to avoid the risks of sexual exploitation and abuse of minors and women at food distributions).

Un Calls For Increased Vigilance To Staunch Return Of African Locust Swarms

New York, Aug  3 2005 - Although current locust infestations in Africa are much lower than last years' devastating swarms, and affected countries are much better prepared than 12 months ago, the United Nations agricultural agency continued to call for increased vigilance and intensive survey operations in a desert locust update released today.

In the update, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) says that unusually heavy rainfall and excellent breeding conditions caused hopper bands to form in July in eastern Chad and the Darfur region of Sudan.  In addition, new infestations have been found in eastern Eritrea.

Elsewhere in the Sahel, including the summer breeding areas of southern Mauritania, northern Mali, Niger and western Chad, very few locusts have been seen so far, despite good rainfall and favourable breeding conditions.

Nevertheless, the agency cautions that intensive surveys must be maintained on a regular basis in all areas throughout the summer in order to detect the first signs of an increase in locust populations, particularly since the rainfall is expected to continue and an outbreak could still develop in August and September.

During July, ground control teams were able to treat nearly 1,726 hectares in accessible areas of Eritrea.  A few small hopper bands were treated in northern Ethiopia, but there were other areas where breeding may have occurred but could not be accessed on the ground.

Since the start of the locust crisis in October 2003, donor countries have provided over $74 million, to which FAO has added over $6 million from its own resources. The UN agency provided overall leadership of the campaign, issued alerts and warnings, and delivered, with donor resources, nearly 60 per cent of the pesticides used, 50 vehicles, numerous sprayers, communication equipment, protective clothing and technical advice.

Mr Kent Page, UNICEF Regional Communication Officer
Tel: (227) 722-840 or (227) 532-129;


For more details go to UN News Centre at

The news services indicated above with the press releases are solely responsible for the contents of these articles.

Latest articles


Air Pollution



Endangered Species




Global Climate Change

Global Health


Natural Disaster Relief

News and Special Reports

Oceans, Coral Reefs



Public Health



Toxic Chemicals


Waste Management


Water and Sanitation

Yale Himalaya Initiative