Niger president says food situation improving

NIAMEY, Aug 2 (Reuters) - Niger's president made a nationwide address on Tuesday to reassure the country that the food situation was improving, pledging action to ensure this year's hunger crisis would not be repeated.

Civic groups and opposition leaders have criticised President Tandja Mamadou for failing to act faster to tackle the impact of drought and locusts in the West African country, where an estimated 3.6 million people are facing food shortages.

"We can note with relief that the situation is improving and our anguish will not take long to disappear," he said in an address on national television and radio.

In the address to mark the eve of the 45th anniversary of Niger's independence from France on Wednesday, he said he would boost Niger's national cereal reserve to 100,000 tonnes.

Officials say the reserve has sunk to a level of cereal and cash equivalents of less than half that amount in the past few years.

Mamadou, who won reelection in December, also said the government would work harder to modernise farming with fertiliser and irrigation schemes, and said around 8,000 young people would work on schemes to prevent soil erosion and combat desertification in the country on the edge of the Sahara.

Mamadou thanked both people in Niger and foreign governments for sending aid to help deal with the food crisis in Niger, where aid workers say a late response by donors has allowed a bad harvest to deteriorate into a preventable emergency.


Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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