On the back of reasonable food production, the situation is more stable than in 2005, with the humanitarian community far better placed, and resourced to respond effectively to emergency needs. However, the legacy from the 2005 crisis suggests that up to 1.8 million people could still face acute food shortages in the coming months, and up to 380,000 children in Niger could require nutritional therapy this year.
International Development Secretary Hilary Benn said:
“Although the international effort last year succeeded in preventing a major catastrophe, the legacy of that crisis, coupled with longer-term chronic challenges in Niger, suggest we may still need a sizeable humanitarian effort as we enter the difficult lean season.
“While our monitoring of the situation in Niger does not show the same dramatic or widespread deterioration that we saw at this time last year, the international community must not forget the tragic circumstances that the country continues to face.
“It is essential that we help reduce children’s nutritional vulnerability and increase access to health and nutritional care for Niger’s poorest. By helping to strengthen NGOs’ capacity to identify and treat children early in many affected areas, we hope we will be able to help avert the devastating consequences of malnutrition and prevent needless loss of life.
“I urge other donors to come in and help the world’s poorest country.”
Today’s announcement will see the UK commit an additional £1,500,000 to support partners’ nutritional interventions. This is on top of £2 million already allocated for 2006 that is supporting a variety of response, recovery and mitigation projects.
Additionally, the wider Sahel region, including Mali and Burkina Faso, will receive a multi-annual budget of £500,000 per year for the next three years to tackle longer-term nutritional vulnerabilities. DFID will continue to monitor the humanitarian situation closely in the countries, where current emergency needs and the risk of deterioration are judged to be more manageable, but where chronic nutritional vulnerabilities pose similar threats to the poorest through the hungry season.