WFP Emergency Operation Enters New Phase In Drought-Stricken Niger

Published on 11 August 2010

NIAMEY – The World Food Programme (WFP) has begun a major round of feeding in Niger for 670,000 young children and their families as part of an emergency operation to reach as many as 8 million food-insecure people in the drought-stricken West African country.

NIAMEY – The World Food Programme (WFP) has begun a major round of feeding in Niger for 670,000 young children and their families as part of an emergency operation to reach as many as 8 million food-insecure people in the drought-stricken West African country.

The  food  distributions  come  at  the  peak of the critical ‘lean season'  period, when family food stocks are exhausted ahead of the October harvest.

In  the  village of Sadakaram, in Zinder region, 900 kilometres east of the capital  Niamey, Hadiza Souraji, a mother of four, was the first to receive the  ration. “Today is a good day for me and my family,” she said. “I don't even want to think about what would have happened without this.”

The  670,000  children under two years of age will receive a monthly ration of  a nutritious blend of corn and soya to combat malnutrition. At the same time, some 4 million members of their families will receive 50 kilograms of cereals, 5 kg of pulses and a ration of oil.

"People  in  Niger have suffered intensely from this protracted drought. It is  critical to provide for the needs of these malnourished children," said WFP Regional Director Thomas Yanga.

Families  with children under two receive specialist nutrition products for the  children  and  a  general  ration  of staple foods for themselves. The “protective  ration”  of staple  foods is designed to ensure that children receive  the  full benefit of the specialist products and that they are not divided  up  among  the  rest  of  the  family, which would  dilute their effectiveness.

Food  assistance  and nutrition support is being provided to other severely affected  regions,  including  Tahoua,  Dosso, Maradi, Tillabery and Diffa. Working  with 24 local and international non-governmental organizations and other  partners,  WFP  has  steadily  increased operations this year as the scale  of  the  crisis  grew.

National  surveys in May and June revealed a worsening food and nutrition situation, with acute malnutrition rates among children  under five years at 16.7 percent – above the 15 percent threshold for an emergency.

"This  massive operation requires US$213 million, but we are still short by at  least 40 percent. It is crucial that donors continue to come forward as soon  as  possible  if we are to prevent the loss of a whole generation of children to malnutrition and food insecurity," Yanga said.

The  drought  afflicting  the  eastern  Sahel  region  knows no borders and neighbouring  Chad  is  also  suffering.  WFP  is implementing an emergency operation  in  the  West  and central parts of the country for 737,000 food insecure people, including acutely malnourished children.