Niamey – Two million people will be in urgent need of food aid this year in Niger despite a healthy cereal surplus in the arid west African nation, the United Nations said on Thursday.
Aid groups will help some 1.5 million people including refugees from neighbouring countries, said the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The Nigerian government has pledged to help another 500 000 people in need.
“Humanitarian agencies estimate the number of people needing food assistance in Niger at 2 million,” said a monthly OCHA report.
Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are seeking some $147m to fund their aid operations. But “on February 15, only 2.5 percent of the funds had been mobilised,” the UN agency said.
The difficulties come despite the fact that Niger recorded an 88 000-tonne surplus of cereal production this year.
The impoverished country of 17 million people regularly faces food crises due to drought and flooding linked to climate change.
Niger also has one of the highest fertility rates in the world, with an average of 7.1-8 children born to every woman, according to official figures.