For months, the hardship of failed harvests -- caused by drought and locust infestation in important growing regions -- has slowly depleted the food supply in-country. The result has been wide-spread hunger and growing malnutrition. The United Nations reports that roughly 3.6 million people, or about 1/3 of the country's total population, is affected. Children are particularly at risk; it is estimated that 800,000 children under the age of 5 in Niger suffer from some degree of hunger to severe malnutrition.
Africare was established 35 years ago in response to the 1970 Sahelian drought in Niger, and has been working there ever since. Africare knows that life in Niger is challenging, even in non-emergency times. For instance, current life expectancy in Niger is 42, versus 77 in the United States. The chance of a child dying before the age of 5 is 33 times greater in Niger than in the United States. And illiteracy is widespread, with just over 25% of men and only 10% of women able to read and write. The people of Niger are already struggling to overcome many challenges, but now the drought and locust infestation have pushed many to the brink of dearth.
While the Africare staff are already on the ground working closely with local communities and the government of Niger to distribute food and other much-needed resources, additional funds are needed to enable Africare to reach more people before it is too late.