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.”