Since 2009 there has been an irregular rainfall pattern across west Africa
with an estimated seven million people at risk in Niger alone. This lack of
rainfall has effected the harvest badly, estimated to be down around 30% on the
previous year, but alarmingly, in places like the Diffa (left) in the east of country
and Tillabéry to the west, there has been no harvest at all.
Five thousand years ago the land that is now known as the Republic of Niger was fertile grassland, but today, following
millennia of desertification, 80% of the land locked country is covered by the Sahara desert.
"The situation today is critical with pledges of aid failing to arrive and
appeals going largely unnoticed. At a feeding centre treating sixty one
children, fourteen died of malnutrition in one week alone and it is estimated
that a further 900,000 children are similarly at risk of malnutrition and,
inevitably, many of those will starve to death." Mamadou Biteye Oxfam’s West Africa Regional Director
described the developing crisis: " We are witnessing an unfolding
disaster which can be averted if the world acts swiftly. Five years ago the
world ignored the warning signs from Niger, failed to act rapidly and lives
were lost. The international community cannot make the same mistake and
again condemn many children to an early death.""
is how we reported the famine situation in Niger in 2009
together with the video bottom right. Today, five/six years
later, the country is facing yet another famine crisis
following last year when the country yet again suffered a
severe drought compounded by a locust invasion. Today
it is estimated that around a third of Niger's population is
in crisis with some 800,000 children under the age of five
already suffering from hunger, including 150,000 faced with
severe malnutrition. And the famine disaster is only just
Within the next six months the disaster is expected to peak
and global agencies are already mobilising to ensure food
water and medical supplies can reach those in need. Thirteen
of the UK's major aid agencies, including Action Aid, the
British Red Cross, World Vision, Oxfam and Save the Children
are working together co-ordinate help.