Friday, 20 August 2010
Niger, the world's least developed country
Nearly 12 million people in Niger – about 80% of the population – are now affected by food insecurity.
According to Afua Hirsh, the causes of the crisis are complex. Last year, exceptionally heavy rainfall destroyed crops and devastated this year's harvest. The resulting fall in production in staples like maize, millet and sorghum has affected much of West Africa's Sahel – fragile in the best of times – including neighbouring Chad and northern Nigeria.
Fatoumata Soumana, disaster risk and emergency response adviser for the Niger branch of Plan, a non-governmental organisation, said the situation was getting worse. "In some areas, things are worse than in 2005."
The paradox of this year's worsening food shortage is the presence of plentiful quantities of food in many markets throughout the country.
"There is food in the markets but the purchasing power of the people is very weak," said Mahamadou Danda, Niger's prime minister. "Without assistance, the people cannot afford to buy it."