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Niger: UN voices concern over high food prices after poor harvest

Article / Review by on December 13, 2011 – 10:14 pmNo Comments

Niger: UN voices concern over high food prices after poor harvest

Mothers with hungry children lining up at distribution site in Taoa, Niger, for food handouts

High food prices in Niger have placed people already hit by shortages under severe pressure as they struggle to feed their families at a time of reduced harvests in the country, which lies in the drought-prone Sahel region of West Africa, a United Nations official said today.

“I am deeply worried about the food situation deteriorating in the coming months and we cannot sit back and wait for the worst to come,” Denise Brown, director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) office in Niger, said in a press release.

The prices of cereals should have fallen during the current post-harvest period in Niger, but have instead risen sharply as a result of the poor yields. The average price of millet has risen by 37 per cent compared to the similar period last year, according to WFP.

The Government of Niger has classified up to 750,000 people as severely food insecure in four regions. That number is expected to increase to as high as a million people early next year, as the “lean” season – when household food stocks are low – approaches in March-April.

WFP aims to provide food assistance to some 3.3 million people in Niger over the coming year at an estimated cost of $163 million.

In Geneva, WFP spokesperson Gaëlle Sévenier told reporters that the increasing frequency of droughts in the Sahel means that communities are lurching from crisis to crisis with little time to recover from previous shocks.

The situation in Niger, Mauritania, Mali and the Sahelian part of Chad is of particular concern. Those countries have requested international assistance, Ms. Sévenier said. Conditions in Senegal, Gambia, Burkina Faso and northern Nigeria are also a cause for concern.

Crop assessment results in Niger have confirmed a cereals deficit of more than 500,000 tons, she said, adding that yields are down mainly as a result of drought and pest infestation.


Hunger Looms In Niger As Food Prices Spike

A poor harvest in the West African country of Niger has caused food prices to shoot up at a time of year they would normally be at their lowest. Concerned that the bad harvest could lead to a full-blown hunger crisis, WFP is planning an urgent scale-up of operations to reach as many as 3 million people with food aid.

13 December 2011

NIAMEY—Prices at Niger’s food markets are spiking in the aftermath of a patchy harvest, causing concern among food security experts that many could soon go hungry.

“The unusually high food prices are affecting vulnerable people who are facing growing difficulties to feed themselves and their children,” said WFP Niger Country Director Denise Brown.

I am extremely worried about the food situation deteriorating in the coming months. We cannot sit back and wait for the worst to come,” she said.

Unseasonal prices

Niger is currently in the immediate post-harvest period, a time when the price for staples like millet ought to be coming down. Instead the failed harvest, brought on by drought, has driven them up.

In October, a 100 kg bag millet cost the equivalent of US $29 at the market in Maradi, Niger’s third-largest city. Today, it costs more than US $41. Food security experts say that right now, people in Niger are paying 37 percent more for millet than they were last year.

Harouna Ibrahim, a small farmer and father of six, says that the situation is already so bad that he would probably migrate in search of work.

“What we harvested is only enough to last us for two months,” he said. “Food is expensive and we don’t have money to buy anything. I am ready to leave for Nigeria.”

Urgent response

According to the Government of Niger, some 750,000 people across the country are severely insecure, a number expected to reach one million by early 2012 as the country moves towards its traditional lean season in March and April.

In response to the looming food crisis, WFP is aiming to support some 3.3 million people over the coming year with life-saving food assistance.


About United Nations World Food Programme (WFP)

Fighting hunger worldwide United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) Logo

The World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide.

“In emergencies, we get food to where it is needed, saving the lives of victims of war, civil conflict and natural disasters. After the cause of an emergency has passed, we use food to help communities rebuild their shattered lives.”

WFP is part of the United Nations system and is voluntarily funded.

Born in 1961, WFP pursues a vision of the world in which every man, woman and child has access at all times to the food needed for an active and healthy life. We work towards that vision with our sister UN agencies in Rome — the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) — as well as other government, UN and NGO partners.

In 2011 we aim to reach more than 90 million people with food assistance in more than 70 countries. Around 10,000 people work for the organization, most of them in remote areas, directly serving the hungry poor.

WFP’s five objectives:

  1. Save lives and protect livelihoods in emergencies
  2. Prepare for emergencies
  3. Restore and rebuild lives after emergencies
  4. Reduce chronic hunger and undernutrition everywhere
  5. Strengthen the capacity of countries to reduce hunger

WFP’s Mission statement

WFP is the food aid arm of the United Nations system. Food aid is one of the many instruments that can help to promote food security, which is defined as access of all people at all times to the food needed for an active and healthy life. ¹ The policies governing the use of World Food Programme food aid must be oriented towards the objective of eradicating hunger and poverty. The ultimate objective of food aid should be the elimination of the need for food aid.

Targeted interventions are needed to help to improve the lives of the poorest people – people who, either permanently or during crisis periods, are unable to produce enough food or do not have the resources to otherwise obtain the food that they and their households require for active and healthy lives.

Consistent with its mandate, which also reflects the principle of universality, WFP will continue to:

  • use food aid to support economic and social development;
  • meet refugee and other emergency food needs, and the associated logistics support; and
  • promote world food security in accordance with the recommendations of the United Nations and FAO.

The core policies and strategies that govern WFP activities are to provide food aid:

  • to save lives in refugee and other emergency situations;
  • to improve the nutrition and quality of life of the most vulnerable people at critical times in their lives; and
  • to help build assets and promote the self-reliance of poor people and communities, particularly through labour-intensive works programmes.

Share food, change lives


> United Nations (UN).

The General Assembly in session. Photo credit: UN / Eskinder Debebe The United Nations was established on 24 October 1945 by 51 countries committed to preserving peace through international cooperation and collective security. Today, nearly every nation in the world belongs to the UN: membership totals 192 countries.

When States become Members of the United Nations, they agree to accept the obligations of the UN Charter, an international treaty that sets out basic principles of international relations. According to the Charter, the UN has four purposes:

  • to maintain international peace and security;
  • to develop friendly relations among nations;
  • to cooperate in solving international problems and in promoting respect for human rights;
  • and to be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations.


* The above story is adapted from materials provided by United Nations (UN)
** More information at United Nations (UN)

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