Aid agency warns of worsening situation in Niger

By staff writers
September 10, 2010

The UK based churches' international development agency Christian Aid has warned that the drought situation in Niger is getting much worse.

Christian Aid's emergency officer, Niall O'Rourke, who has been in Niger visiting therapeutic feeding centres which the agency is funding, says: "All of the centres I visited were full to capacity; our partners do not have the resources to deal with all of the children who come to the centres in search of food."

O'Rourke continues: "This is difficult work by its nature, but staff at the centres told me they regularly have to turn away moderately malnourished children due to a lack of resources."

Niger is the poorest country in the world according to the UN and this year half of the population is at risk of malnutrition. About 18 per cent of children do not survive to reach their 5th birthday.

Drought followed by heavy rains this year have made the situation even more desperate than it was in 2005.

O'Rourke explains: "The women who come every day to the feeding centre in the town have walked up to five kilometres with their children in their arms. Many of the mothers are still teenagers with two or three children under five."

"The stories they tell are heartbreaking, in many cases their husbands or partners have left in search of work abroad, the smallholdings of land they own are under water, their grain stores have been destroyed, there are too many mouths to feed and not enough food," he adds.

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