Burkina Faso + 3 more

Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania and Niger: Food Insecurity Operation Update No. 1

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In Brief

Emergency Appeal No. 05EA015; Operations Update no. 1; Period covered: 22 July to 22 August, 2005; Appeal coverage: 27.5% (in cash, kind and services (click here to go directly to the attached Contributions List, also available on the website).

Appeal history:

- Emergency Appeal launched on 22 July 2005 for CHF 18,243,483 (USD 14,211,607 or EUR 11,642,754) in cash, kind or services to assist 44,400 families (some 220,000 beneficiaries) in four countries(1) for six months (until 22 January 2006).

- A revised Plan of Action was submitted on 8 August 2005 specifying assistance to 76,067 families or 532,000 beneficiaries over the next 6 months period. A Revised Appeal is scheduled for September/October, focussing on contingency planning as well as on the transition from emergency to recovery and beyond.

- Disaster Relief Emergency Funds (DREF) allocated: CHF 280,000. Unearmarked funds to replenish DREF are needed.

Outstanding needs: CHF 13,227,000

Related Emergency or Annual Appeals: N/A

Operational Summary: One month after the launch of the Appeal, the Federation has assisted 12,501 children under and approximately 81,256 beneficiaries through its nutrition programmes. All systems and infrastructure (logistics, telecommunications, offices, housing) required for a very complex and sizeable operation are in place in Niger, with linkages to Mali and Burkina Faso, where preparedness and response mechanisms have been upgraded rapidly. Actual emergency relief operations have started in all four Sahel countries, in Niger as early as August 1st, and have expanded ever since.

The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (the Federation, the national Red Cross societies of the affected region and bilaterally operating national Red Cross societies - in Niger - notably those of France, Spain, and Qatar) are conducting operations within a close planning and implementation context with the UN bodies and the main humanitarian and developmental agencies such as MSF, Oxfam, Action Contre la Faim, SCF, CARE, Africare, PLAN, and Caritas. For contact lists see: www.humanitarianinfo.org/westafrica/niger. Hundreds of Red Cross and other humanitarian workers are working long hours to expand and consolidate a complex operation aimed at stabilizing and containing a very serious food security crisis. There are few if any reserve stocks left to cover the period until the next harvest in October and hundreds of thousands of people are experiencing grave problems until then. General distributions are becoming necessary and the Red Cross is partnering with WFP to respond to this urgent situation.

To date the response to the Emergency Appeal has been less than satisfactory regarding cash donations; the response in kind and services has however been comparatively good. Pending the arrival of a number of donations in kind, such as vehicles, initial operating costs and rentals require a minimum of unearmarked cash for the current operation to maintain its current momentum. Donors are therefore urged to make such funds available, in addition to equally vital donation in kind and services.

Background

In 2004 and 2005 countries across the Sahel suffered the worst locust invasion since 20 years at a time of low rainfalls and droughts, leaving parts of the region with a severe food crisis and malnutrition. Early reports from MSF and other sources indicated that millions of people were threatened by the crisis in Niger, Mali, Mauritania and Burkina Faso. Children are dying (particularly in Niger) as a result of the crisis. Reports show a 2004 shortfall in cereal production in Niger of approximately 15% compared to the average annual production over the last 5 years or a grain deficit of about 225,000 metric tones; locally cereal deficits have reached 70-80%.

In Niger, there is a very severe, but localized, food security crisis in some pastoral and agro-pastoral areas of northern Maradi, Tillaberi, Zinder, Agadez and Tahoua departments caused by an early end of last year's rains, locust damage to some pastoral lands, current high prices of food, and chronic non-food causes of malnutrition. In these areas, high malnutrition rates, some of which reveal severe local problems, will inevitably be accompanied by increases in the "normally" high levels of infant mortality.

Niger now suffers from a combination of extremely high food prices and a collapse of livestock prices; scarcities of animal feed and local foodstuffs; exodus/migration of entire households across international borders in search of new livelihood; and what FEWSNET -- the source of the above -- has termed "accelerated use of unsustainable survival strategies, liquidation of livestock, household assets and excessive felling of trees in fragile environment." Finally, throughout 2005 malnutrition rates have increased. Thus, one child out of five is affected by moderate malnutrition and is at risk of becoming severely malnourished in the near future if not assisted. Its prevalence is estimated between 13.4% (PAM-HKI), 16 to 17% (UNICEF), 19.4% (MSF) depending on location and timing of the surveys. Severe malnutrition is estimated between 2.4 and 2.9% in the most severely affected areas (Tahoua and Maradi), which are rates similar to those in the worst conflict zones and emergencies in the world.

In July 2005 the situation in Mali, Burkina Faso and Mauritania was less severe, with 20% of the population of Mali reported to be affected by food insecurity, in particular 175,000 children (WFP) and 26% of the people of Mauritania still suffering the results of last year's locust invasion. The Burkina Faso authorities estimated that some 500,000 people were in need of food assistance.

Today there is no large-scale famine or widespread starvation, but the numbers of vulnerable run into the millions. According to UNICEF 800,000 children in Niger are affected by the current food crisis, with 160,000 children moderately and 36,000 severely malnourished. Admissions at therapeutic feeding centres in mid-July were twice as high as a year earlier. Further increases in malnutrition can be expected until the end of the "lean" season which covers the period between exhaustion of food reserves in April and the new harvest in October. Thus, admissions in 5 MSF-run therapeutic feeding centres in Tahoua and Maradi saw 1,700 severely malnourished children newly admitted in one week in August.

The total number of people in need of food aid was revised upward during the second week of August, when Niger's National Early Warning System added a further 149,109 persons to the 2,5 million already identified as food insecure, bringing the total to 2,649,109.

Finally, the price of millet has increased on average by 6% in the week of 10-16 August, but the figures express considerable variation. In Niamey (+ 22%), Dosso (17%) and Diffa (+13%) the increases are said to be due to lack of supply. In contrast, prices in Zinder and Tahoua fell by 8 %. Millet is now 105% more expensive than a year ago and 47% more than at the height of the last food crisis of 2000-2001. Prices of livestock and camels appear to recover somewhat but those of goats and sheep continue to fall, expressing a general worsening of the terms of trade of livestock versus cereal prices.(2)

Foot notes: (1) For more about the national societies responding to this crisis, please click on the links below.
Red Cross Society of Niger -- http://www.ifrc.org/where/country/cn6.asp?countryid=127
Mauritanian Red Crescent -- http://www.ifrc.org/where/country/cn6.asp?countryid=114
Mali Red Cross -- http://www.ifrc.org/where/country/cn6.asp?countryid=112
Burkinabe Red Cross Society -- http://www.ifrc.org/where/country/cn6.asp?countryid=181

(2) UN , OCHA weekly report no.6, week 15-21 August 2005

For further information specifically related to this operation please contact:

In Niger: Langdon Greenhalgh, Sahel Operation Team leader, Email if rcsn44@ifrc.org; Phone 227 40 50 02

In Mali: Si biry Diarra, Secretaire Executif, CRM, Email: crmalienne@afribone.net.ml; Phone 223 224 45 69; Fax 223 224 0414

In Burkina Faso: Victor Amah Sodogas, Relief delegate; Phone 226 76 44 69 34; Email VIOTO2001@yahoo.fr

In Mauritania: Dr. Aicha Phone 222 648 2513(in Mauritania); Email in Dakar:

In Senegal: Alasan Senhore, Federation Head of Regional Delegation for West and Central Africa, Dakar; Email: f i rcsn21@ifrc.org; Phone 221 869 3641; Fax 221.860.2002

In Geneva: Madeleine Lundberg, Federation Regional Officer for West and Central Africa, Africa Dept; Email madeleine.lundberg@ifrc.org; Phone +41 22 730 4335; Fax +41 22 733 0395

Roy Probert, Media and Public Relations Officer; Phone +41 22 730 4296; Email roy.probert@ifrc.org

All International Federation assistance seeks to adhere to the Code of Conduct and is committed to the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response in delivering assistance to the most vulnerable. For support to or for further information concerning Federation programmes or operations in this or other countries, or for a full description of the national society profile, please access the Federation's website at http://www.ifrc.org

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