| Questions and Answers on the Current Situation in Niger
Why are children suffering in Niger?
Niger is already one of the world's poorest countries, ranked by UNDP at 176
out of 177 countries. 63% of Niger's population live below the absolute poverty
level, with women making up two thirds of this figure. The situation of women
and children is characterised by women's high fertility rate, a wide gap
between men and women in terms of health, education and literacy and high
maternal mortality. The population is so vulnerable that any shock can kill.
The twin shocks of drought and locust plague last year…
How much money does SC need in order to carry out a response to this
We have secured the £600,000 necessary to begin our emergency-feeding
programme in Niger. An additional £400,000 would enable us to expand our
activities to include all that we want to accomplish until the end of 2005.
Are we flying food into the country?
We have just received funding from DFID to fly in 40-45T of nutritional inputs
not available in local West African markets, including Plumpy nut, BP5, F100,
F75, tents, feeding kits etc. The plane will leave Ostend on Wednesday with
these medical supplies, which will keep children alive in the immediate term
until the food security situation improves.
How much have donors, in particular DFID given you already?
We have received £200,000 from DFID and they have agreed to fund an
additional charter flight of specialist nutritional food from the UK to Niger
next week. We are in the final stages of securing a further 400k from ECHO for
nutrition. Both of these grants will last 6 months - however we would ideally
be in a position to secure further income for a 1 year programme, which is why
we are appealing for additional funds from the UK public to save children's
lives over this period.
Why has the international community been so slow in their response?
There have been some concern about Niger since last year, when the twin shocks
of the locust plague and drought raised concerns about this year's harvest.
However, the extent of the crisis has only started to emerge since May when the
United Nations made a flash appeal for $18m (£10m). There was little
response. Niger is not traditionally a country where the major UK NGOs or DfID
have had large programmes; as such it can be hard to raise money as it is 'off
the radar', at least until the world sees images of starving children.
Given the worthy words about Africa at Gleneagles what is being done to
prevent children are dying on the continent as a result of poverty?
The crisis in Niger in many ways reinforces the basic message of Make Poverty
History. Remember this crisis has arisen not because there is civil war in the
country, not because a Government is oppressing its own people, but because so
many people in Niger are so poor. And because they are poor, the twin shocks of
lower than usual rainfall a year ago and a locust plague a few months later
have led directly to this dreadful situation, where so many children are
literally threatened with starvation. So what we have to do is first to deal
with this crisis, and then to deal with the poverty that gave rise to it.
What Live 8 and the Make Poverty History campaign demonstrated beyond any doubt
is that the UK public is no longer prepared to tolerate a situation whereby
children are dying, in 2005, because they simply don't have enough to eat. We
have to do all we can to respond over the coming weeks.