Uneven and sporadic rainfall during the May-to-October 2011 rainy season led to decreased crop and fodder production, which caused deteriorating food security in localized areas of Niger, particularly in the western regions of Dosso, Tahoua, and Tillabéri. The Government of Niger (GoN) National Agency for the Prevention of and Management of Food Crises forecasted in December 2011 that more than 6 million people—approximately 38 percent of the country’s population—would experience difficulty meeting their overall food needs in the first half of 2012. The GoN also anticipated a 2011 cereal shortfall of 519,000 metric tons that would likely be unevenly distributed in the country. The hunger season, which normally starts in March in most areas, was expected to come as early as January in the Tillabéri Region. Relief agencies noted the possibility that many affected populations would migrate in search of fodder for livestock, further diminishing cereal stocks in other regions. Extreme weather events, including droughts and floods, as well as consecutive years of food insecurity led vulnerable Nigerien households to require continued assistance in Fiscal Year (FY) 2012.
On December 20, 2011, U.S. Chargé d’Affaires, a.i., Lucy K. Abbott issued a disaster declaration due to the effects of food insecurity in Niger. In FY 2011, USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) provided more than $13.6 million for agriculture and food security, nutrition, and economic recovery programs, many of which continued into FY 2012, benefiting food-insecure populations. In addition, USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (USAID/FFP) provided nearly $50.7 million in FY 2011 for emergency food assistance and economic recovery and livelihoods support. USAID/OFDA staff in Washington, D.C., and Dakar, Senegal, continue to monitor the situation in conjunction with USAID/FFP and the U.S. Embassy in Niamey.