Oxfam Ireland welcomes Irish government donation for Niger

With more than three million people, including almost a million children, facing starvation in Niger, Oxfam Ireland welcomed today's pledge by the Irish government of one million euro for the crisis.

"The situation is desperate. Even the limited food that is available has soared in price rendering it unaffordable for most families and there is no hope of any harvest for at least three months. Families are feeding their children grass and leaves from the trees to keep them alive," said Nick Ireland, Oxfam's Regional Humanitarian Coordinator.

Oxfam is already at work in Niger, protecting people's livelihoods through food-for-work programmes and helping people manage strategic sale of their livestock. Owners receive a fair price for their least-healthy animals, allowing them to buy fodder for those that remain. As the crisis escalates, Oxfam experts in Niger are setting up a $2 million food support programme. Vouchers will be distributed to 130,000 people which can be traded for food with local traders. Plans are also in place to help 28,000 nomadic herders to buy new animals for a fair price.

The World Food Programme (WFP) increased its appeal on July 12th asking for a further $12 million to help the people in Niger to make it through the next three months. The UN emergency appeal for $18.3 million, launched in May, remains less than a quarter funded. Between them, the appeals are two thirds under-funded, with a total funding shortfall of $26.5m.

"The people affected by this crisis need money now. Every day that the world 's richest countries look the other way, more people face starvation," added Mr. Ireland.

Last year's locust invasion and rain failure during the agricultural season have plunged nomadic herder and farming families into crisis. Emaciated livestock, worth nothing, cannot be sold. The price of cereals has more than doubled and no staple foods are available in the markets.