Niger Food Crisis 2005: Humanitarian Situation Report No. 2

27-29 July 2005


WFP increases number of people being targeted with food aid

To date, WFP has been targeting 1.2 million people, but this figure is now expected to rise to 2.5 million over the coming month. Some 5,000 metric tons of rice have been offloaded at the port of Lome, Togo and are being trucked north to Niger, while another 10,000 metric tons are being offloaded, also in Lome. As of 29 July, WFP is on course to reach its target of dispatching some 4,220 metric tons of food aid to its NGO partners by the end of the week. Distribution of these rations to some 272,880 people will start next week through WFP's NGO partners at nutritional feeding centres and free food distributions in the following regions: Diffa, Maradi, Tahoua, Tillaberi, Tillabery, Zinder.

FEWSNET fact sheet on the current situation in Niger

In order to avoid mis-information and mis-interpretation of the facts on the ground, FEWS Net has developed an overview of the facts behind the current crisis in Niger. The document highlights that the current food crisis not is a temporary emergency and that while media repeatedly has referred to famine and starvation, the situation is rather characterized by a very severe, but localized, food security crisis in some pastoral and agro-pastoral areas of northern Maradi, Tillabery, Zinder, and Tahoua departments caused by an early end of last year's rains, locust damage to some pasture lands, current high prices of food, and chronic non-food causes of malnutrition. The document can be downloaded from


1 Nutritional situation update

As underlined by the above mentioned factsheet developed by FEWSNET, Niger does not have a very robust nutritional data collection and analysis system, so conclusions based on partial information have to be carefully interpreted. The rates of acute malnutrition that have been observed by different organisations and institutions suggest a nutritional emergency in those areas surveyed. They can not, however, be extrapolated as representative of malnutrition conditions in other parts of those departments, nor of the whole country.

2 Cereals

FEWSNET reports that this year prices have risen steadily since January 2005 and are now 75-80% above the last five year's average. For pastoralist livelihoods, a concurrent decline in sales prices for small animals has meant that the cereal purchasing power for livestock-dependent households in agro- pastoral zones is only 25% of what it was a year ago.

3 Livestock

FEWSNET also reports that this year's return of the herds from the south began with the good rains that started in May and June. There have been cases where some herds were temporarily 'stranded' between their northern pastures that had yet to regenerate, and the areas they were leaving in order for planting to begin. It is also noted that this year, coping capacities appear to be stretched to the limit by continuing high cereal prices that translate into poor terms of trade in selling livestock to buy cereals.

4 Hydro-meteorological update

FWESNET furthermore reports that the current rainy season has gotten off to a very good start in Niger. Farmers have been able to plant early; according to GON estimates, 92% of the area expected to be under cultivation had been planted by June 15 compared to 65% which is normal for this time of year. The favorable rains are improving pastures, although animal conditions will not rebound immediately. Cereal prices in other parts of the Sahel are beginning to fall and those in Niger will likely do the same. Prices for livestock should soon improve with good pasture conditions. The maize harvest is underway in Nigeria, Benin, Ghana, and Ivory Coast, and supplies of imported maize from those countries should soon be arriving in Niger. This will bring lower overall cereal prices FEWNET concludes.

5 Health

Cholera outbreak in Bouza

From 13 to 28 July 2005, the Ministry of Health in Niger reported a total of 49 cases and 5 deaths due to cholera (case fatality rate 10.2%). Cases have occurred in Bouza health district, Tahoua region. Vibrio cholerae O1 has been laboratory confirmed. A WHO AFRO/HQ technical team is currently visiting Niger in the context of the humanitarian crisis resulting from the food shortage. The team will be in Bouza district from 29 to 31 July.

6 Security

UN Security Phases

Phase I remains in effect for the Agadez region. The rest of the country is in No Phase.

7 Procurement & logistics

Logistical constraints

Partners continue to experience difficulties in procuring the necessary food commodities due to non-supplied markets and increase in prices, both in Niger and more generally in the sub-region, especially for the local kinds of millet and sorghum. With contributions now coming in from many countries, food commodities, medical supplies and other relief items are being airlifted into Niger.

It should be noted that costs for airlifting commodities are much higher than shipping costs, creating expenditures that could have been avoided if timely contributions had been received earlier or alternative funding mechanisms been in place. For example, to airlift 4,000 tons of UNIMIX from Europe costs some USD 4,400,000 compared to USD 300,000 if the same amount had been transported by sea in a timely manner.


Humanitarian actors are implementing a range of activities in the most affected area of the agro-pastoral zone (SW, S, SE) where most of the population is concentrated with the objective to save lives, to protect agricultural production tools/livelihoods and livestock and to promote the 2005 agricultural campaign.

1 Response to date by sector

A comprehensive database of who-does-what-where is being developed by the CCA in consultation with partners consolidating data on needs and response per sector. For now, according to reports received so far by OCHA, response includes the following.

Food and agriculture

As a preventive and mitigating response to the situation, the government of Niger has since November 2004 used 42,000 tons of food commodities or the equivalent of USD 31.2, taken out of its buffer stocks and cash reserves. The intervention strategy consisted in covering 40% of the food deficit through:

- sale of cereals at a subsidized price (XOF 10,000 per bag of 100 KG; 32,000 MT)

- cereal banks (728 units with 7,075 MT)

- food for work (2,821 MT) in 355 sites of high intensity manpower work

- cash for work (USD 604,000)

- 67 nutritional recuperation sites supplied with 201 MT

- 157 fodder banks supplied with 2,915 MT

In collaboration with partners, the government is currently developing a distribution plan for 40,000 MT of additional food aid: 5,000 MT of rice available in warehouses; and 36,500 MT of food aid which is in the pipeline. Of the 40,000MT, 20,000 MT is planned to be allocated to free targeted food distribution, while the other half will be used for cereal loan operations to be paid back after the October harvest.

  • Since the beginning of the crisis, the national food crisis authority has used 37,800 metric tonnes of cereals from its own stocks and funds and undertook the following activities: sale of cereals at subsidized price, distribution of 500 metric tonnes of cereal seeds, and 66 projects to mitigate the crisis (1,800 metric tonnes Food for work, Cash for work, cereal banks, fodder banks)

  • WFP has established a pipeline of some 26,000 metric tonnes of food commodities. Some 27,000 affected persons have so far been reached.

  • UNICEF has purchased 614 metric tonnes of cereals to restock 61 cereal banks in affected areas.

  • FAO has distributed 110 tonnes of seeds and 853 tonnes of fodder to some 10,000 households.

  • Caritas has provided 580 metric tonnes of food for food-for-work activities and food aid to communities and villages where cereal deficits are more than 50% in the regions of Agadez, Diffa, Dosso, Maradi, Tahoua, Tillabery/Niamey, and Zinder.

  • Caritas Niger is also providing 300 tonnes of food for sale at reduced prices, 550 tonnes of food to help build up cereal banks, and 100 tonnes of food for distribution to the most vulnerable at no charge. Improved seeds for sowing and feed for livestock are also being allocated.

  • Oxfam is implementing Voucher for Work projects in eastern Tahoua, northern Maradi and northern Tillaberi regions of the country. Number of beneficiaries is 130,000 persons. Targeted free vouchers, which can be exchanged for food and seed, will be provided to the 10-20% considered to be most vulnerable.

  • Muslim Hands has allocated USD 175.000 to distribution of food in Koara-Tegui, Tahaoua Province, and Maradi Province.

  • GOAL is airlifting 17 tonnes of specialised medical supplies as well as other items intended for malnourished children.

  • Episcopal Relief and Development is partnering with Lutheran World Relief, through Action by Churches Together International, to supply people in 55 villages with food supplies such as grain, milk powder, seeds, and cattle feed.

Health and nutrition

  • UNICEF has procured and distributed therapeutic food and essential drugs and dispatched them to 10 implementing partners on 15 feeding centres.

  • UNICEF has carried out training of 80 health workers and partners on the treatment of severe malnutrition nationwide.

  • UNICEF has procured and distributed 190 metric tonnes of Unimix to feed 31,666 moderately malnourished children for one month.

  • UNICEF has provided essential drugs valued at USD 25,000 for severely malnourished children.

  • UNFPA has provided delivery kits, micronutrients and mosquito nets to pregnant and lactating women in most affected regions of Zinder and Agadez.

  • Concern is distributing 40 metric tones of rations and providing special medicines for severely malnourished children.

  • World Vision is operating an outpatient therapeutic feeding program in Zinder for up to 5,000 moderately malnourished children under-five without medical complications. Children receive Plumpynut, as well as a ration of millet, cowpeas and oil to take home. Children who are identified as being severely malnourished with medical complications are evacuated to a hospital in Maradi - about four hours away by road.


UNDP supports the DNPGCA - the national body in charge of coordinating risk reduction, prevention and response activities to mitigate and manage food crises (Dispositif National de Prévention et de Gestion des Crises Alimentaires) by providing funds for coordination, logistical and information management.

OCHA continues to provide surge capacity to assist with information management, advocacy, protection issues and financial tracking. In addition, OCHA has deployed surge capacity staff from its headquarters in Geneva to enhance support to the UNRC and UNCT in strengthening coordination arrangements, resource mobilization and the revision of the Flash Appeal.

2 Planned interventions

In addition to ongoing activities mentioned above, interventions planned by humanitarian partners include:

  • WFP intends to deliver a total of 23,000 tonnes of food to 19 districts within the next five weeks. Four airlifts from WFP's humanitarian response depot in Brindisi are scheduled, the first with arrival on 28 July carrying 44 metric tons of high-energy biscuits as well as mobile warehouses, generators and 4x4 vehicles.

  • Starting August 1, WFP is also planning a series of airlifts to shift 200 tonnes of Corn Soya Blend, used in supplementary feeding, direct from Abidjan in Cote d'Ivoire to Niamey.

  • An additional 996 tonnes of rice and 550 tonnes of pulses is being transported from Lomé by road by WFP.


1 Strategic level

The UN and partners revise Flash Appeal for Niger

In view of the aggravation of the crisis in Niger, the UN and its partners are revising the Flash Appeal originally launched on 19 May 2005. The updated inter-agency appeal aims at recuperating 32,000 severely malnourished children and 160,000 moderately malnourished children, as well as distributing targeted free food commodities to 2.5 million persons among the most vulnerable. Other important related needs include access to primary health care, rehabilitation of polluted boreholes, and protection of livestock and provision of seeds. The Revised Flash Appeal will be launched early next week.

2 Sectoral level

Food security coordination meeting rescheduled

Food security coordination meetings hosted by Government are held on a weekly basis with UN agencies, NGOs, civil society and donors. The meeting scheduled for Thursday 28 July at 10h00 was cancelled but has been rescheduled to Monday 1 August at 16h00.

3 Information management

The web-based Humanitarian Information Portal for Niger available at can be consulted for Situation Reports, Humanitarian Contact Lists, Assessment Index, SAP Maps of needs and priority areas, Data on affected areas, Links to the financial tracking system showing contributions, etc. To post relevant information on the site or create links, partners are encouraged to contact OCHA.

Recent updates include:

  • WFP Food insecurity operational map (29 July 2005)

  • FEWSNET: An evidence base for understanding the current crisis (26 July 2005)

  • Who-does-What-Where in Nutrition (25 July 2005)

4 Advocacy

Current intensive media coverage - often with a sensational approach - risks hampering coordination efforts between actors on the ground and impede delivery of appropriate emergency assistance. In addition, as noted by FEWSNET, the current media coverage may actually impede the market in delivering lower-cost food to those who need it most . On 26 July, FEWSNET provided a fact sheet with clarifications on the characteristics of the current food crisis in Niger and the effects. The document can be downloaded from

The UN is working with partners on aligning numbers of persons in need and supporting efforts towards more responsible reporting and media coverage based on facts.

5 Bridging relief and development

Development programmes and projects that aim to address the root causes of the food crisis, poverty, structural management as well as local capacity building are currently being diverted to support emergency efforts. However, the current situation calls for a proper linking between relief and development activities to ensure that humanitarian programs do not inhibit longer-term development efforts from addressing underlying vulnerabilities of the population. This includes protection of the vulnerable groups, advocacy as well as gender initiatives.


During the reporting period, WFP has issued an operational map which can be downloaded from along with other maps.


The latest Financial Tables for Niger can at any time be viewed on-line at

For reporting on contributions, agencies and donors are encouraged to use the financial tracking system found on or to email directly.


In order to receive daily IRIN updates on the food crisis in Niger via email, users may subscribe to IRIN on

To be included on or taken off the distribution list for the Humanitarian Situation Reports for Niger, or to contribute to the next report, kindly contact: Sofie Garde Thomle on

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this document are not necessarily shared by the UN.


UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit