Almost half the population of Niger faces food insecurity, while in Chad two million people face a food shortage. 200,000 children in Niger need treatment for malnutrition. Drought and locusts have eroded the livelihoods of villagers in both Niger and Chad, leaving them unable to pay for food. Women are now foraging in anthills for seeds and gleaning the sides of roads for fallen grain.
The Guardian reports that “In Niger, which the United Nations classifies as the world’s least developed country, starving families are eating flour mixed with wild leaves and boiled plants. More than 7 million people – almost half the population – currently face food insecurity in the country, making it the hardest hit by the crisis.”
Oxfam goes into more detail about the situation in Chad. The affected population depends on fruit trees for their main income, and the trees have been heavily damaged by locusts. As a result, there is food in the markets to buy, but nobody has the money to purchase it.
Several organizations have appeals out for money to help in the West Africa food emergency. Oxfam Spain and Oxfam Great Britain both have appeals. So do Save the Children and the World Food Programme. Save the Children explicitly connects starvation to lack of funds in this BBC article: “We’re facing real starvation. It is happening already. Children are starving. Money is not coming at the speed and the volume that we need which is why we want to make this appeal to raise the level of this emergency from being silent to something much louder.”
Now, I guess, we wait and hope that the world responds.
(photo credit: WFP/Judith Schuler)