Niger communities pushed to the brink as food crisis intensifies
The food crisis in West Africa is pushing communities to the brink as families ration scarce resources of food and sell animals at plummeting prices.
A study conducted in two regions of Niger by the Assessment Capacities Project (ACAPS) and a coalition of aid groups (including World Vision) has found between 70 and 90 per cent of people believe their food stocks will run out before the next harvest. And around 80 per cent of families do not have enough seed stocked to plant for the next season.
Around 15 million people are now in need of food assistance across West Africa, particularly in Niger, Mali, Chad, Mauritania and Senegal. In Niger alone, more than six million people are at risk of hunger and nearly two million of those are in critical need of food assistance.
Already 1.3 million children in the region are suffering from acute malnutrition, with 400,000 suffering from the most severe form.
Erratic rains, pests and long-term vulnerabilities are the major causes of the crisis, but instability in neighbouring countries is compounding the problem. Refugees from the conflict in Mali have crossed into Niger, putting additional strain on families already facing food shortages.
"People are arriving exhausted, hungry and in need of the very basics but Niger is struggling to cope with the influx of refugees and the extra strain is pushing families to the brink of survival," said Chris Palusky, World Vision's Food Crisis Response Manager for Mali and Niger.
"Poor villages have been overwhelmed with people, some expanding seven-fold in just a few months, with refugees forced to live in overcrowded homes and makeshift shacks. Time is running out to support host families before they themselves reach breaking point."
World Vision is calling on the international community to respond swiftly to prevent further suffering.
“Food crises rarely take the world by surprise and yet all too often we see the international community fail to act quickly enough,” said World Vision Australia chief executive Tim Costello. “The crisis in West Africa is still in its infancy, so we still have a chance to act early and to avoid the mistakes that cost so many lives in East Africa.”
World Vision Australia launched its West Africa Food Crisis Appeal this week and is scaling up its response to a growing need in the region. Globally we are aiming to raise $60 million to assist more than 1 million people across five countries.
To donate to the West Africa Food Crisis Appeal go to www.worldvision.com.au or call 13 32 40.
Media contact: Chloe Adams 0427 413 816 / firstname.lastname@example.org
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