Concern responding to food emergency in Niger: Update from the field

Concern's food distributions in Tahoua region of Niger began today in response to the food crisis gripping the country. Current estimates are that 3.6 million Nigeriens, including 800,000 children, are at serious risk of malnutrition as a result of a drought and locust infestation that damaged crops in the region.

Concern's first food distribution took place Wednesday morning at Yama, 80km south of Tahoua in Illela district. The distribution is in collaboration with MSF (Doctors Without Borders) who are already treating severely malnourished children at the site. Concern expects to distribute food to approximately 300 children. Family rations will be distributed next week when the next food shipment arrives from the World Food Program.

Concern has a team of nurses, nutritionists, and logisticians on the ground in Niger, with additional staff including water and sanitation engineers expected in the coming week. Concern's first charter of relief items including nutritional supplements, blankets, plastic sheeting and medicines arrived in Niamey, Niger's capital, on Tuesday July 19. In the coming weeks Concern will begin a Community-based Therapeutic Care (CTC) nutrition program which will reach 40,000 people monthly, including 6,000 children.

On Monday, the nutrition team went to Barmou, 30 km north east of Tahoua to assess and register children for the program. Five-hundred sixty children were assessed, of which 179 were found to be malnourished and were registered. Twenty-two of these were classified as severely malnourished. Six of the severely malnourished children were found to have medical complications and were brought back to Tahoua for treatment at the MSF center. This gives a global malnutrition rate of approximately 32% and a severe rate of 3.9%. Normally the global malnutrition rate in Niger at this time of year is 6-7%.

Food distribution in Barmou will take place on Monday August 1. That distribution will include a family ration consisting of rice, pulses and oil. Additionally, Concern is expecting 600 tons of rice from the World Food Program this week along with 90 tons of pulses and oil.

For more information about Concern's program in Niger or to set up an interview with aid workers on the ground, please contact Laura Wiessen, Communications Officer at (212) 557-8000.