Posted on Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010 at 9:53 am
Most of the women Concern is targeting are illiterate and have no numeracy skills. Concern has trained the women in basic mobile phone skills to help them claim their cash payments. Photo: Niger, Concern Worldwide
I arrived in Niger three months ago to help the Concern Worldwide country team scale up and roll out an emergency program to respond to the emerging food crisis.
It’s hard to say when exactly this shifted from an “impending crisis” to a real humanitarian emergency, but we are there now. And we are putting every bit of the planning this team has done since December to the test.
The official Food Security survey of April 2010 states that there are 7.1 million people facing hunger: 3.3 million of those are considered to be facing extremely food shortages and unable to feed their families’ without help. Concern’s program is in Tahoua, the second worst affected part of the country.
Every day, we are working at maximum capacity on initiatives to prevent rates of malnutrition from reaching emergency thresholds. We are distributing seed packs and fertilizer to help families plant crops in time for the next harvest; providing nutrition support to children under five, pregnant women and mothers; and launching an innovative use of mobile phone technology (and manual transfers) to distribute emergency cash to the most vulnerable women. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted on Friday, May 14th, 2010 at 6:00 am
Agaycha Awikguini, a 50-year-old widow receives her first emergency cash transfer from Concern. Photo: Niger, Concern Worldwide
Niger is on the brink of what will be a major catastrophe if the world does not act now. As part of Concern’s Emergency Response Team, I am no stranger to crises: that is why I was sent to Niger on January 10, just two days before the Haiti earthquake.
Millet is the crop that keeps most people alive here. The majority of the country’s population of 15.2 million live by farming or herding livestock—without rain, they do not earn enough income to get by or grow enough food to eat.
The rains last year were erratic, when they came at all. That caused widespread, massive crop failures and 60 percent of the country’s population is now facing hunger. Unless immediate action is taken, close to 378,000 children are at risk of severe malnutrition.
A week after I arrived here, I got a call from Haiti from the Head of Concern’s Emergency Unit , saying they were in desperate need of extra hands. But he and I agreed that I needed to stay in Niger. I told him, “The crisis here is going to be big, too. And in just a few months, it’s likely that this team will also be in serious need of emergency reinforcements to respond.”