Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A brighter forecast for Niger

The latest news from Niger shows some hope for easing the famine. Good rains have helped the crops that will be harvested next month. However, aid groups warn that the Sahel region of Africa will still need a couple more good harvests to fully recover from the famine.

From Reuters, writer George Fominyen gives us the latest from Niger.

Ten million people across the Sahel have been facing the threat of severe malnutrition until the new harvest in a few weeks time, with aid groups urging donors to plug shortfalls in emergency food supplies.

The WFP has estimated that Chad needs around 100,000 metric tonnes of food aid, of which it has so far received only 70,000 due to scant donor funds. More specific help is also needed to tackle child malnutrition.

The food shortfalls meant farmers had to use depleted reserve cereal stocks to feed their livestock and will now need more than just one good harvest to replenish these stocks, said Jean Francois Caremel of the Action Against Hunger charity in Chad.

Caremel added that many poor families had borrowed heavily to survive the drought. A rich cereal harvest will now lead to lower cereal prices, meaning they will need to sell more crops to make enough money to repay the debts.

"At the end of the day they would be short of food again, although the harvest could be good," Caremel said by telephone from the Chadian capital N'Djamena.

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