Press Releases

    AFR/1228
    IHA/1070
    8 August 2005

    UN Says $81 Million Needed for Worsening Situation in Niger

    NEW YORK, 5 August (OCHA) -- The United Nations today called for just under $81 million in humanitarian aid for the Niger to combat the worsening crisis gripping the country.  In addition to increasing the original flash appeal, issued on 19 May for $16 million, the revised appeal has been extended beyond September through the end of 2005.

    The original appeal sought to complement the Government of the Niger’s efforts to combat the effects of 2004’s drought and locust invasions in a country suffering from extreme poverty, mainly by reinforcing national efforts to increase food availability through subsidized sales and food-for-work programmes, and through support for the agricultural and livestock sectors.  Now, the bulk of the funds requested under the revision are aimed at feeding the 2.5 million people suffering from food insecurity.

    Among those in direst need, 192,000 children -- 160,000 moderately malnourished and 32,000 severely malnourished -- require special feeding and medical assistance.  Facing increased threats to their physical health, including malaria, diarrhoea (including cholera), acute respiratory infections, measles and hepatitis, many will also now need free health care.  Thus, there has been a nearly threefold increase in the money needed to address basic health needs overall.

    Moreover, during acute humanitarian crises, malnutrition and communicable diseases interact, meaning that the nearly 3.6 million individuals affected by the crisis overall face increased and immediate health risks over the next six months.  Provisions have also been made to improve access to clean water and to prevent contamination of the existing water supply.

    The second poorest country in the world, the Niger is suffering from a crisis of livelihoods above all.  In order to cope with food shortages, the population has had to sell their livestock, which constitutes their only safety net.  Yet, cereal prices have increased threefold, while livestock prices have decreased dramatically.  In worst cases, cattle have been sold for as little as $1.50; in normal years, the going price is $250.  Longer-term recovery programmes must be undertaken to reinforce resilience to future setbacks such as drought, desertification, and locusts, which are intensified by the country’s extreme poverty.

    Recently, donors have begun to respond substantially to the crisis afflicting the Niger, allowing humanitarian agencies to accelerate the procurement and distribution of relief supplies.  However, low initial response to the United Nations’ call for action has prolonged the duration and impact of the crisis into the harvest and post-harvest periods.  The price tag for providing the necessary assistance has ballooned both because the type of recuperative -- rather than preventive -- assistance that is now necessary is more expensive, and because of increased delivery costs.  Taken all together, these factors have prompted the dramatic increase in funding required to meet humanitarian needs called for in the revised appeal.

    The full text of the revised flash appeal for the Niger may be accessed at www.reliefweb.int or at http://ochaonline.un.org.

    For further information, please call:  Stephanie Bunker, OCHA NY, Tel.: 917 367 5126, mobile:  917-892-1679; Vanessa Huguenin, OCHA-Geneva, tel.:  +41 22 917 18 91.

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