Archive for the Niger Category

Scavenging Anthills to Survive: A Dispatch from the Sahel Hunger Crisis

Posted on Thursday, July 5th, 2012 at 10:57 am

By Carol Morgan, Regional Director, Central Africa Region, Concern Worldwide

Hafiza Moussa is three years old and suffering from malaria. He is receiving treatment from a Concern-supported ward (CRENI) at the regional hospital.

I recently returned from the Sahel region of Africa, where a major humanitarian crisis is now unfolding, affecting an estimated 18.7 million people. In the Tahoua region of Niger, where Concern is responding, I saw children who, completely listless from the effects of malnutrition, could not hold down therapeutic milk in overcrowded feeding centers.

The United Nations now estimates that upwards of one million children are at extreme risk of severe acute malnutrition across this semi-arid belt of land along the Sahara desert. Even in ‘non-crisis’ years, 645,000 children die in the Sahel—35 percent of which are linked to malnutrition. This grim reality will never change unless we address the root causes of cyclical hunger.

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As Food Crisis Looms in Niger, Lives Hang in the Balance

Posted on Thursday, March 15th, 2012 at 3:55 pm

By Leila Bourahla, Niger Country Director, Concern Worldwide

For the third time in less than a decade, the Sahel region of West Africa could once again face a food crisis. The most urgent question now is not whether a response is needed, but when it will happen and at what scale.  But perhaps the most important question is: what can we do to reduce the likelihood that we will be having the same conversation, facing the same life-or-death consequences, next year, or the year after?

The landscape in rural Niger. Photo by Tim Peek for Concern Worldwide, 2006.

We saw the deadly costs of delayed intervention last year in the Horn of Africa, where widespread hunger in Ethiopia and Kenya and famine in Somalia led to the deaths of as many as 100,000 people, according to figures collected by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DfID).  While the early warning signs from East Africa were far more severe than that from West Africa (in Niger, food production was 10-15 percent below average in 2011, but was an estimated75 percent below average in Somalia.), we should take them no less seriously, particularly when it comes to the value of early and preventative action. Read the rest of this entry »

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In the wake of the East Africa crisis, will help arrive in time for the Sahel?

Posted on Monday, February 27th, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Paul O’Brien, Overseas Director, Concern Worldwide

Last week, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Assistant Administrator Nancy Lindborg announced a contribution of $33 million to support food security, nutrition and short-term cash assistance efforts across the West African region of the Sahel, bringing USAID’s total humanitarian assistance to the region to more than $270 million in fiscal years 2011 and 2012.  The announcement caused barely a ripple in the US media, and many who heard the news may have even asked ‘What crisis?’ or ‘What’s the Sahel?’  As aid organizations, it is our responsibility to issue and amplify calls to action to respond in the Sahel, and to broadcast the important message that coordinated action now will save lives and prevent costly interventions later – and we have the evidence.

Millet is the staple crop that keeps most people alive in Niger, but this year, drought and poor harvests threaten to leave 13 million people in need of emergency food assistance by April. Photo: Tim Peek for Concern Worldwide US, Tahoua town, Niger

Right now, a series of factors—including volatile spikes in food prices, failed harvests and cyclical drought—have triggered widespread food shortages across the Sahel, according to the USAID Famine Early Warning System Network. Levels of malnutrition among children under five have already reached the internationally recognized emergency threshold of 15 percent in parts of many affected countries, which include Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso, Mali and Mauritania. Read the rest of this entry »

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Empowering Niger: One Teacher at a Time

Posted on Friday, July 9th, 2010 at 8:16 am

Concern-supported teachers’ training session gets underway in Djinguiniss, Niger. Photo: Amayele Dia, Niger, Concern Worldwide

By Amayele Dia, Program Support Officer, Niger

Niger is the least developed country on the planet—according to the United Nations Human Development Index. Its people survive on very little, most on far less than $1 a day, and every year in Niger, the population endures what is called a “hunger gap”—a period of roughly 4 months when the food from the last harvest has run out, but the next harvest is not yet ready. In some years, like this one, failed rains lead to crop failure, and the hunger gap is much longer and much more serious.

Niger is one of the toughest countries imaginable in which to live or to work. My job is to help Concern tackle the root causes of poverty here through such programs as education—to give the poorest people in this very vulnerable nation a foothold to begin the long, hard climb out of extreme poverty.

No contribution in this country is too small to make a difference—and if education is supported by the international community here, it will be a powerful, liberating social and economic force. But it is a step-by-step battle, and the stakes are high. Read the rest of this entry »

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Initiating Concern’s “Pro-Sante Child Survival Project”

Posted on Thursday, January 14th, 2010 at 1:43 pm
The desert of Niger from the air, tiny clusters mark out the villages beneath

The desert of Niger from the air, tiny clusters mark out the villages beneath

I am en route to Niamey, Niger’s capital city, and from there I will continue on to the Tahoua region, where Concern works. I am travelling to help set up a new five-year Child Survival program that we are undertaking in collaboration with the government of Niger. The program will deliver child health and nutrition services in a rural area. Read the rest of this entry »

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