Friday, 20 August 2010
Hunger Crisis in Niger
Babies are succumbing to malnutrition, respiratory and other infectious diseases (malaria, diarrhoea) that attend the malnourished young.
Death is commonplace among the world’s one billion people living in ‘absolute poverty’, defined by American economist Jeffrey Sachs as ‘the poverty that kills.’
Crop and livestock farmers in Maradi, Tillabery, Zinder, and Tahoua – four departments bordering Nigeria in the south – are suffering the most.
One child out of five under the age of five is moderately malnourished and at risk of becoming severely so in the near future if not assisted.
FEWS NET argues that there is no basis to expect that starvation is a likely outcome for these numbers of infants or people. ‘Children will likely die from malnourishment but a substantial proportion is probably dying from conditions related to poor water quality, or other non-food related problems.’
FEWS NET reports that although the current food security crisis in Niger is serious, it affects far fewer people than current crises in Ethiopia, Somalia, Zimbabwe and Sudan (Darfur and Northern Bahr El Gazal).
Hunger is an annual event in Niger, where some 82 percent of the population rely on subsistence farming and cattle rearing and only 15 percent of the land is suitable for arable farming. Beyond a little irrigation along the Niger River, most farmers are at the mercy of the rains.
Emergency assistance is not enough. More research and development resources should be spent to address Niger’s chronic food insecurity.