Wednesday, July 21, 2010

UN Rural Development Arm Responds to Niger Food Crisis

The United Nations rural development arm has begun responding to a growing food crisis due to drought in Niger. Scant and irregular rainfall in Niger this last year has left 7.1 million people hungry. "We are responding quickly to refill the village granaries, as well as provide inputs such as seeds and small tools to be used for the upcoming planting season to increase the resilience of rural households to deal with a crisis of this scale," said Mohamad Béavogui, Director of the agency's West and Central Africa Division. Béavogui visited the country recently to identify what steps needed to be taken in the near future, beyond emergency assistance, to address the problems of food insecurity, malnutrition and rural poverty. To support long-term development in Niger, the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is helping more than 50,000 women through cereal banks. These banks are traditionally built to store crops immediately after harvest to allow farmers to sell them later during the dry season when demand and prices are higher. In the past three decades, IFAD has sent $240 million in funding for eight different projects and programs in Niger. Earlier this month the UN World Food Program (WFP) announced that it would be doubling the amount of funding sent to the country.

- Clara Hill