In-depth: Food and nutrition crisis in Niger and the Western Sahel
NIGER: Aid caravan for the east
Half of northern Diffa's livestock has died
DAKAR, 21 July 2010 (IRIN) - An extraordinary crisis calls for an original response: The authorities and aid organizations in Diffa, eastern Niger, are planning to hit the road with a humanitarian caravan to help 35,000 people and weakened cattle next week.
“It will be like an airdrop, but with vehicles. We will bring food to people, fodder to animals and medication. We will offer cash for weakened animals and will try to save those that can be saved,” said the head of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Diffa, Sylvain Musafiri, who participated in an assessment with the government and aid organizations last week.
Musafiri called on humanitarian agencies to pool their resources, rapidly and on the government to officially grant its support to the mission.
In northern Diffa, the drought that led to a drop in cereal production and poor pastoral conditions
has already killed half the livestock, according to the assessment, and only a fifth of the 45,000 animals counted in February 2010 may be alive by the end of this month.
The report says opportunities to save animals are diminishing by the day and the focus should switch to helping people who have experienced livestock losses and hunger. According to the government, 90 percent of the population of the region depends on livestock.
“We have seen a catastrophe. There are dead animals everywhere. Some stockbreeders have lost nearly all their cattle and are losing their mind. People have been eating animal grains, but they have none left by now,” said Mani Adamou from the government’s technical service division.
Half of Niger’s 13.4 million inhabitants are facing hunger
, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization.