Hunger and Malnutrition Crisis Resurfaces in Niger

Action Against Hunger launches emergency programs to lessen impact of food shortages on affected families
ACF-Niger, courtesy S. Hauenstein-Swan

NEW YORK, NY—In response to massive food shortages and staggering acute malnutrition rates in Niger, international humanitarian organization Action Against Hunger | ACF International launched an emergency response to provide nutritional support to children, increase the income of vulnerable families, and bolster a national initiative to dampen the impact of the crisis.

These interventions come on the heel of an announcement by the government of Niger that the rate of severe food insecurity in the country has tripled since last year.

Government authorities estimate that nearly a million children in Niger are moderately malnourished and another 200,000 have severe acute malnutrition, a life-threatening condition. Over 58% of Niger’s population is deemed food insecure, according to recent surveys. Assessments conducted in December by the Nigerien government showed that some 7.8 million people will be forced to cope without food reserves for at least six months before the October harvest; food stocks for severely insecure households—approximately 20% of the population—have already been depleted. These severe food shortages result from a number of factors, including drought-like conditions, high staple food prices, and a sharp drop in the market price of cattle.

“The food situation in Niger has reached a critical stage,” says Noemie Munoz, Niger Desk Officer for Action Against Hunger, which has delivered humanitarian programs in Niger since 1997. “Families with no other options are going days without eating or are resorting to begging and borrowing to cope with massive shortfalls.”

Action Against Hunger is providing logistical and technical support for the Nigerien government’s response, which includes cash-for-work programs to create 800 new village grain banks and reinforce another 1,000 existing banks, food and seed distributions to vulnerable households during the planting season, and bolstering national grain reserves. The national plan covers approximately 30% of the food insecure population for three months.

In addition, a program to provide nutritional care for children under five is intended to reach 378,000 children with severe acute malnutrition and more than 1.2 million children with a moderate form of the condition. The government will also provide a blanket distribution of supplementary nutrition products to 500,000 children between six and 23 months of age as a preventative measure against malnutrition.

ACF is also launching an emergency intervention in the Mayahi province of southern Niger to provide nutritional support to roughly 18,000 acutely malnourished children under five and cash-based grants to 1,900 vulnerable people to boost purchasing power at local food markets.

Funding for Action Against Hunger's programs is being provided by the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation, the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid department, the UK Department for International Development and its West Africa Humanitarian Response Fund, UNICEF, the French Development Agency, the Catalan Agency for Development Cooperation, and Accenture.

Despite these programs, the population’s needs far outstrip available resources. Action Against Hunger is calling on donors to curb the impact of the crisis through immediate funding for nutrition, food security, and livelihoods.