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Niger’s Government And UN Food Agency Team Up

Niger’s Government And UN Food Agency Team Up To Deliver Food To Most Vulnerable

A year after a food and nutritional crisis ravaged Niger, at least 650,000 vulnerable people in the African country stand to benefit from a joint effort by the United Nations food agency and Niger’s Government to distribute extra food during this year’s so-called “lean season.”

Starting today, the World Food Programme (WFP) and Niger will distribute free food in two rounds across the country, the Rome-based WFP announced in a statement, adding it is providing half of the food aid.

About 16,000 metric tons of food, mainly cereals, will be distributed under the scheme, which is scheduled to be completed by early October, in time for the first harvests of the season. Each household will receive 100 kilograms of cereals under the first round, while 50 kilograms of cereal per household will be handed out in the second phase.

A survey of 10,500 households conducted in May identified the areas most in need of support during Niger’s annual lean season, which peaks this month and in September. The Tahoua region was found to be so severely affected that nearly half of the free food will be distributed there. Some food will also be given out in Maradi, Zinder, Tillaberi and Dosso regions.

WFP’s Country Director, Sory Ouane, said: “Recovery from a year as difficult as 2005 does not happen overnight. A significant proportion of the population are still struggling to get back on their feet, despite what was a good harvest at the end of last year. They need a safety net and, together with the government, we are providing it.

During an appeal to donors in May to make up a funding shortfall for millions of people across Africa’s Sahel region, WFP officials said no country in the Sahel faces a more difficult lean season than Niger, where last year’s food crisis has left a deep scar, pushing thousands of the poorest further into poverty and debt.

While donor response was encouraging and let WFP secure supplies for feeding centres until September, officials expressed concern that if food prices rocketed upward, many of the poorest will again find themselves in need of urgent aid.

An additional 300,000 people who are not covered by the targeted distribution, but live in areas poorly served by rural markets, are benefiting from the restocking or creation of village cereal banks. With current in-country stocks, commodities in transit and scheduled arrivals in coming months, WFP expects to be able to cover all planned distributions this year.


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