Search

 

Cablegate: Niger: Food Insecurity Continues to Deepen

VZCZCXRO9631
PP RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHNM #0964/01 3411625
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 071625Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY NIAMEY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5504
INFO RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1706
RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0321
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0222
RUEHRN/USMISSION UN ROME 0014
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS 0020
RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/CDR USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 NIAMEY 000964

SIPDIS
AIDAC
SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR AF/W, AF/RSA, EEB/TPP/MTAA/ABT, AND AF/PDPA
PLS PASS USAID AFR/WA FOR PHUBBARD, TLAVELLE, KTOWERS
OFDA/W FOR ACONVERY, CCHAN, FSHANKS, MSHIRLEY, JMCINTOSH
FFP/W FOR JBORNS, JDWORKEN, RHUDSON, SGILBERT
ACCRA ALSO FOR AFR/WA LFRANCHETTE
DAKAR FOR RDAVIS AND ZSEMUNEGUS
GENEVA FOR NKYLOH
ROME FOR US MISSION
BRUSSELS FOR USAID PBROWN
NEW YORK US MISSION USUN
NSC FOR CPRATT

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR PGOV EAID SOCI NG
SUBJECT: Niger: Food Insecurity Continues to Deepen

Ref: a) Niamey 813 b) Niamey 862 c) Niamey 948

NIAMEY 00000964 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) Summary: Evidence continues to accumulate that Niger is
facing a serious food insecurity crisis between now and the next
potential harvest in September 2010. Reporting from the field
continues to confirm poor, minimal, or no harvest in many villages.
Pasturage is virtually non-existent in the pastoral zone. The
Minister of Livestock and Animal Industry is asking for
international donor assistance. It is fairly clear that there is a
serious methodological flaw in the Government of Niger's (GON)
harvest assessment. Famine Early Warning System (FEWS) is reporting
increasing depth and breadth of high food insecurity. End summary.

Post-Harvest Assessment Methodology Seriously Flawed
--------------------------------------------- -------
2. (SBU) Ref B reported on the GON Ministry of Agricultural
Development's pre-evaluation of the 2009/10 agricultural season and
provisional results. Further discussions with experts and
knowledgeable insiders reveal how truly "provisional" the results
are. The report states that potential stalks of cereal grain are
enumerated in August and September. This would be adequate in a
season when rains are sufficient and continue until the end of
September. In many parts of Niger they did not continue, and it is
clear that many of these stalks counted in August did not mature in
late September. These same experts suggest that the 2009 harvest
easily could be below the three million metric ton mark, or less.
This has not happened since 2004.

Cereal Production Likely Worst in Recent Years
--------------------------------------------- -
3. (SBU) If the cereals production is three million metric tons, and
the population is 15.29 million (per the Population Reference Bureau
estimation for mid-2009), the total grain availability from
production would be 196 kg per person versus the 10-year average of
252 kg and very close to the 195 kg and 197 kg per person in 2004
and 2000, respectively. It is clear this meager harvest was very
poorly distributed over Niger with significant numbers of villages
having little or no production.

Pasturage Unusually Poor
------------------------
4. (SBU) In Niger cereal harvest is only one of the many
determinants of food security. FEWS data show that the pasturage
deficit is near an all-time high with only 33 percent of the
estimated requirement available after two bad years. Very little of
this is in the pastoral zones. This in part explains the falling
prices of animals versus cereals. Livestock constitutes an
important constituent of livelihood security. The Minister of
Livestock and Animal Industry, in a report published in the
GON-owned daily newspaper "The Sahel," detailed the depth of the
problems confronting the livestock sector and appealed to the
international donors to assist Niger. General failure of the cowpea
and groundnut crops will further deprive farmers of cash to buy
cereal.

Survey in Six Districts Confirms Serious Problems
--------------------------------------------- ----
5. (SBU) After the early October field assessment, the Embassy
Niamey Food for Peace Officer (FFPO) requested partnered NGOs to
provide a rapid assessment of the food security situation in their
districts (departments) of operation. In six districts of Dosso,
Tahoua, and Zinder Regions (two each) surveys of 480 households in
48 villages conducted in October 2009 concluded that 67 percent of
the households reported their harvest to be either bad or very bad.
More than 77 percent reported three months or less of their food
needs covered with 16 percent indicating no stocks at all. 30
percent of all households have already reduced food consumption from

NIAMEY 00000964 002 OF 002


three meals a day to two and 16 percent of the total is only
consuming one meal per day. 57 percent of the households report
rationing food through reduced amounts being prepared for
consumption. 70 percent report the animal fodder situation as poor.
(Comment: Although the limitations of the survey are recognized, it
represents one more snapshot reflecting a very early deterioration
of the current food security situation. Like the other information
provided in this message, however, it does add to the total picture.
End comment.)

OFDA Confirms Alarming Deficits in Maradi, Elsewhere
--------------------------------------------- -------
6. (SBU) OFDA conducted an in-depth situation assessment in early
November in the regions of Maradi, Zinder, and Diffa (ref C). One
interesting highlight reported a regional official in Maradi willing
to risk reporting that five of the seven districts in his region
were experiencing "alarming deficits." A visit to one of the
districts not reported as alarming produced a women's association
indicating a harvest of only one month's supply of cereal. Maradi
is not usually included in the regions reported as being at serious
risk, as all of the attention seems to be on Zinder and Diffa.

FFP Team Visit Further Verifies Acute Stress
--------------------------------------------
7. (SBU) The FFP team from USAID/Washington and USAID/WA Dakar, with
USAID/Niger FFPO and Assistant FFPO, conducted an eight-day field
trip to visit NGO partner MYAP (multi-year assistance programs)
projects and simultaneously assess the food security situation. The
FFP team visited 21 villages in seven districts in three regions.
In all sites visited, the residents described a very poor harvest
and very limited access to food. The team found that in Goure
district of eastern Zinder region the harvest was no more than 10
percent of anticipated normal production.

UNOCHA Reports Poor Pasturage and Diffa Deficit
--------------------------------------------- --
8. (SBU) The semi-monthly bulletin of UN OCHA reports serious
deficit of pasturage in Diffa and Tahoua regions as well as a 90
percent cereal deficit in Diffa. The OCHA report notes that NGOs
are responding with increasing support for cereal banks and cash for
work activities.

Latest FEWS Reporting Raises Level of Concern
---------------------------------------------
9. (SBU) The FEWS Regional Food Security Alert of November 25
reports on the West Africa Region, but has a few noteworthy comments
on Niger, including the observations that:

-- If Government policies restrict cereal flows, poor
agriculturalists could face reduced cereal availability, high prices
(2005 crises levels), and locally extreme food insecurity; and

-- From April, declining food stocks, rising cereal prices, and
falling livestock prices will reduce household purchasing power and
high food insecurity will spread to the poor in deficit agricultural
households in Niger. (Comment: There are reasons to suggest these
scenarios will unfold more rapidly than FEWS is currently
predicting. End comment.)

Allen

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

OECD: COVID-19 Crisis Puts Migration And Progress On Integration At Risk, Says

Watch the live webcast of the press conference Migration flows have increased over the past decade and some progress has been made to improve the integration of immigrants in the host countries. But some of these gains may be erased by the COVID-19 pandemic ... More>>


Pacific Media Watch: How Pacific Environmental Defenders Are Coping With The Covid Pandemic

SPECIAL REPORT: By Sri Krishnamurthi of Pacific Media Watch Pacific Climate Warriors - creative action to trigger better responses to climate crisis. Image: ... More>>

Reporters Without Borders: Julian Assange’s Extradition Hearing Marred By Barriers To Open Justice

After monitoring four weeks of evidence in the US extradition proceedings against Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reiterates concern regarding the targeting of Assange for his contributions to journalism, and calls ... More>>

OHCHR: Stranded Migrants Need Safe And Dignified Return – UN Migrant Workers Committee

The UN Committee on Migrant Workers has today called on governments to take immediate action to address the inhumane conditions of migrant workers who are stranded in detention camps and ensure they can have an orderly, safe and dignified return to ... More>>