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Sahel Drought Emergency 2012: Niger Appeal

Sahel Drought Emergency 2012: Niger Appeal

In Madaoua, in the Tahoua region of Niger, there is another targeted Emergency Relief operation by SOS Children aimed at famine relief, strengthening families and trying to avoid a cascade of refugees driven by Sahel famine.

Madaoua is located at more than 500 km from the capital city. As well as widespread famine and drought, cereal prices in local markets have risen to a level where families are struggling to plant grain for next year. Lifestock is dying from lack of clean water and the outlook is very threatening. In close cooperation with the local municipality of Madaoua we have recently been reviewing:

  •  the ongoing food and drought situation in the municipality of Madaoua and the impact of our help
  •  the identification of bottle necks or problems faced where we help
  •  risk zones, where people who have not received food aid may still be facing serious malnutrition and may be driven to migrate
  •  perspectives and recommendations for the next steps

The Emergency Relief programme in Madoua has covered 21 villages distributed in 4 municipalities: Azarori, Bangui, Galma and Madaoua.

The food assistance has provided around two thousand households most at risk with food supplies. Those most at risk were identified in Feb 2012 and placed on the program. From 20th March to 22nd May 2012, 95 tons of food have been distributed in these municipalities of which 25.3 tons (Azarori), 45.9 tons (Bangui) and 23.9 tons (Galma). The food distribution was one sack of millet or of maize of 100 kg for each household typically composed of 7 members.

We have also equipped five Health Centres with medicines distributed in 5 municipalities (Azarori, Aréwa, Magaria, Leyma and Takorka). The medicines are essentially composed of nutritional products such as "plumpy nut" (plumpy nut is a very energy and protein intensive supplement for starvation) and vitamils is to deal with diseases related to vitamin deficiency. The first distribution was in total 20 crates of plumpy and 18 sacks of vitamil, and a second distribution is underway.

At the same time, we have trained health workers within the villages hear the health centres on breast feeding and on making enriched porridge for underfed infants. These healthcare workers will help educate their villages.

Challenges in Niger Emergency Relief

Because the food crisis in Madaoua is so widespread, almost all families are disaster victims and it is very difficult to identify which are most in need of help. Finding and focusing on the most needy is difficult when the need greatly exceeds our available resources. General monitoring of children's weight and improvement is difficult in such an acute crisis.

We have been looking at how the most vulnerable households living in villages where the food insecurity prevails have adapted strategies to survive the shock. The main adaptations are: consumption of cheaper foods or less favorite ones, reduction of the number of everyday’s meals, food borrowing, and the consumption of seeds planned to be used during this coming rainy season. Time is being used for the search for food instead of performing agricultural activities. None of this is good for the future.

Most villages chiefs in the wider region visited have said that they received food aid once during the six (6) past months covering 1 to 2 months needs in food stuff in the visited villages. The only kind of food aid program they all benefited from in the past is the low price sale program developed by the government and some NGOs.

It remains urgent to provide an emergency food aid to communities living in a precarious situation. The families need to be physically capable to farm as the rainy season arrives in order to have food for next year. We are also seeing many families forced to sell not just furniture but tools which are vital to their future survival (ploughs, spades, bicycles..). Together with the consumption of seeds this is worrying.

Helping with Sahel Emergency Relief

If you are able to help our work in Africa please see the Sahel Emergency Appeal page for ways to help or consider contributing a pound a week to our "Pound for Africa" appeal.