Australian donations will feed 35,000 people in Niger

Funds raised from CARE Australia's recently launched Niger Appeal will feed some 35,000 people in Diffa, an extremely vulnerable and remote region in southern Niger.

More than 500 tonnes of cereals will be distributed over the next month. CARE Australia's donations will also assist in covering the costs of distributing additional food in the Diffa region, including fuel for trucks, mobilising food distribution personnel and conducting household surveys to determine need.

The widespread food shortages in Niger are the result of a combination of the devastation caused by the locusts and the unexpectedly long drought. There is a small window of opportunity to move food quickly to those in need -- before the height of the rainy season makes access difficult.

'We are very grateful that our donors have responded so generously and quickly to our Niger Emergency Appeal,' said Dr Robert Glasser, CARE Australia's Chief Executive. 'Now, more than 5000 households in the centre of this crisis will receive urgently needed food.'

CARE is responding extensively to the current food crisis, reaching 143,000 people with food aid in the Tarka region alone, and launching a programme aimed at reducing malnutrition among 28,000 children and 17,000 women. Now, and in the coming 18 months, CARE's goal is to ensure the nutritional stability of approximately 850,000 people in 121,500 households in the hardest-hit districts of Tahoua, Maradi, Diffa, Zinder and Tillabéri.

Despite the efforts of CARE and other relief organisations, the situation remains very serious. The crisis also threatens to have devastating long-term effects, as cattle breeders, a crucial part of the local economy, watch their herds starve.

In addition to food aid to the people of Tarka, CARE is distributing cattle feed -- 180 tonnes so far -- to protect their livestock and future income.

CARE has 300 staff in Niger, working in six of the country's eight regions. Current programmes include household livelihood security, micro-finance, health and emergency aid. CARE has been in Niger since 1974.

For interviews with Dr Robert Glasser, CARE Australia's Chief Executive, please call Jessica Walker on 0419 567 777.