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Breaking the hunger pattern in Niger

The Sahel region of west Africa is on the brink of its third food crisis in less than a decade. At present, 5.4 million people in Niger are at risk of hunger.

Concern Worldwide has responded by implementing an early intervention programme. We are also making long-term plans to reduce the impact of future crises.

Learning from past experience

We acted early in 2009 to initial indications of an impending food crisis in Niger. This meant that when a hunger crisis did arise in 2010 we had already put preventative measures in place. This helped save countless lives. We used cash transfers, improved seed varieties and emergency nutrition programmes to reach the most vulnerable people before food ran out. 

This was the first time emergency cash was distributed using mobile phone transfers and the results were encouraging. Malnutrition rates in the areas where we worked were well below the emergency threshold and 80% of the targeted villages at risk of food shortages enjoyed above average harvests.

Long-term measures

Our early response taught us many valuable lessons, above all that early intervention is key to saving lives and preventing a full-scale emergency. We have continued to work in Niger for the long-term, focusing our efforts on measures to ensure people there can grow and buy enough food for themselves and their families. This way we can help break the cycle of hunger.

Breaking the hunger pattern

The current crisis in Niger has arisen due to many factors including poverty, cyclical drought, failed crops and lost incomes. There is also an increased demand for food after 250,000 migrants from Niger were forced to return home.

To prevent a similar crisis happening again, we need to break the pattern of hunger. To do this, we need to make sure people have options for earning a living beyond just agriculture. We also need to give farmers the tools and skills they need to be successful. Helping Niger recover from this food crisis is no easy task. But we are there for the long-haul and have programme measures in place for the next 12-36 months and beyond. 

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