World Vision is concerned that the existing food crisis in Niger could worsen as a result of widespread flooding.
The longed-for rains have brought destruction instead of relief for many in the parched West African country, where floods have washed away entire villages and crops.
Some 111,000 people have been affected, according to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Prior to the floods, about half of the population – 7.1 million people – were already in need of food assistance. Almost 500,000 children under the age of five are acutely malnourished.
Households that had no food supplies as a result of the food crisis have now lost their crops and food supply for the next year, in the areas most affected by flooding. Water supplies have become polluted, and cattle washed away.
“People are starving to death,” said Hudan Mohammed, a villager in Zinder, southern Niger.
“Nursing mothers have no breast milk; parents are watching their children starve as their animals have been swept away by floods.
“The international community urgently needs to come to the aid of Niger, otherwise thousands of people will die.”
World Vision began scaling up its food and nutrition emergency response in Niger earlier this year.
The organisation is treating severely malnourished children under the age of five and pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, and providing food to affected children in areas worst hit by the crisis.
World Vision is also preparing to respond to the flooding by providing affected families with essential items, including blankets and soap.
"This is devastating on a scale we haven't seen in Niger for years," said Mark Bulpitt, Head of Humanitarian Emergencies at World Vision UK.
"If we don't act now, this could be catastrophic for children and their families."
Niger’s hunger season is at its height, with the harvest expected in September potentially improving the outlook for many.
However, those families worst affected by flooding will continue to experience serious food shortages in the coming months.
World Vision is also concerned for the health of malnourished children, who are particularly vulnerable to malaria, diarrhoea and respiratory infections during the rainy season.
The organisation works to make a serious and sustainable impact on poverty and its causes, especially as they affect children, and is committed to long-term change in Niger.
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