Food security in Niger
The Sahel region of West Africa suffered a severe food shortage in early 2005 that affected 3.5 million people in Niger.
Caritas members in Niger and Burkina Faso started a food security programme, which provided immediate food aid, livestock fodder and cereal seeds thanks to US$1.2 million donations from the international network. At least 28,000 people in Niger received food through food for work schemes.
Caritas USA (Catholic Relief Services/CRS) began running a variety of programmes which included food for work programmes and therapeutic feeding centres.
Caritas Niger relies above all on local volunteers. They travel through the country by bike, taxi, and donkey to identify drought stricken regions, discern the most immediate needs and raise the alarm. Volunteers are men and women, religious and lay, Christian and Muslim.
A plague of locusts was the catalyst of the food crisis, but food insecurity is a chronic problem in the Sahel.
The rates of malnutrition among children were high even outside the hungry season, with a third of children stunted, half of them severely, and 36% underweight. Two in three people in Niger live on less than a dollar a day in one of the world’s poorest countries.
Climate scientists warn that in the future, global warming will mean droughts becoming more regular and severe.
Caritas has set up food banks and feeding centres to make sure communities can better cope with famine. Farmers are given training in soil preparation and diversifying food and income sources.
Caritas has also set up early warning mechanisms to monitor food levels and raise alerts if serious food shortages occur.
Related Articles World Refugee Day: A day in the life of a camp in Chad Food crisis in Niger worse than in 2005 as millions face hunger Hunger spreading in West Africa’s Sahel Emergencies: food crises in the Sahel Time running out for Niger as food crisis threatens Why does West Africa face another food crisis?
RESOURCESAnnual Report 2011Emergency GuidelinesEmergency Response Tool KitEmergency Appeals 2012Emergency Appeals 2011Emergency Appeals 2010Emergencies on Caritas BlogBridging the Gap between Policy and Practice