International agencies have raised alarm overe an imminent food shortage that may possibly affect citizens of the Niger Republic and have, therefore, canvassed an early response from donors.
Seven agencies including CARE, Catholic Relief Services, Mercy Corps, Oxfam, Plan International, Save the Children and World Vision, in a report, jointly stated that failure to speedily respond may result to a potential humanitarian disaster.
In a statement made available to The Post yesterday by Oxfam in Abuja, the group said: “It is the latest in mounting evidence pointing to a potentially massive humanitarian disaster in the Sahel if the world does not respond quickly with urgently-needed assistance to those already in crisis, and mitigation activities to prevent more families from going hungry.”
According to a study conducted by the agencies in collaboration with the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Government of Niger, it was revealed that about 90 per cent of people estimated that their food stocks would run out before the next harvest thereby, creating an imminent ‘hunger gap’.
“A full 100 percent of families surveyed disclosed that they have already reduced the amount of food consumed each day because they do not have enough to eat,” it stated.
The Country Director of CARE Niger, Johannes Schoors lamented on the food shortage in the country stressing that women could hardly feed their children a square meal per day.
He stated that: “In the villages we see more and more mothers not being able to feed their children more than once a day. We can’t wait any longer. We can’t wait until it becomes one meal every second day, and those children are starving, and suffer crippling, life-long effects from malnutrition,”
In his remark, Country Director of Oxfam in Niger, Samuel Braimah explained the magnitude of the crisis saying: “People in Niger are facing a multifold crisis. This year, we’re witnessing a lethal cocktail which is putting enormous strain on households across the country. Following several crisis since 2005, their coping mechanisms have reached their limit and already pushed thousands over the edge.
“The worst can be avoided and thousands of lives will be saved if we act now. It’s that simple.”
However, the agencies proposed that stakeholders must act quickly to scale up interventions to address food security and malnutrition, particularly for the most vulnerable: children under the age of two, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and the elderly.
While describing the crisis as a chronic emergency with long-term causes, they suggested that any response must work with local governments to integrate risk reduction measures. This according to the recommendation is to help families to be more resilient to food shortages and drought and prevent them from falling into crisis.