The government of Niger says that over 5.5 million people in the country are at risk of going hungry and that a rapid response will be needed to avert a full scale food crisis.
Drought has hit the Sahel region this year just as many families are still in the process of rebuilding their lives, and re-stocking cattle after the last food crisis which struck in 2010. Niger is facing a grain shortfall of 692,501 tons following another severe drought across the Sahel. Rising food prices and already chronic levels of malnutrition, particularly amongst children, are compounding the crisis which is affecting many regions of the country.
One third of Niger's population is food insecure, and estimated five million people are facing a crisis caused by a combination of failed rains, poor crop yields and pest attacks. Four out of five of those affected live in urban areas.
While the peak of the crisis is expected to hit in March, in some areas families have already exhausted their food supplies and are selling their animals and household items to buy food. Without animals like goats and cows to provide milk and cheese, families lose a vital source of nutrition, putting children at risk of malnutrition and stunting, and leaving families without a source of income.
To make things worse, many families have lost a crucial survival option: finding work in neighbouring countries. Many Nigeriens who went to Côte d’Ivoire, Libya and Nigeria to find work have come home early because of instability or conflict. Many workers came home with nothing; some even had to borrow money in order to return home, placing their families further into debt.
Facilitating emergency cash transfers
In response to the plans of the government and many humanitarian actors to use cash transfers as one component of the emergency response, CaLP Niger has set in motion an action plan focusing on 3 main areas.
With support from the government, UN agencies, INGOs and LNGOs, CaLP will focus on:
Capacity building of CTP practitioners including field visits, rapid training of field-based CTP staff, training on market monitoring and analysis and dissemination of CTP resources. CaLP and its partners will also promote harmonised approaches to targeting and cash value determinition through the dissemination of standards and guidelines developed through the Niger cash transfer technical working group.
Promotion of and advocacy for the use of good practices of CTP during the response to the current emergency in Niger.
Facilitating coordination for better distribution of CTP activities throughout vulnerable areas of the country, through updating and mapping of CTP planned and current reponses (3W) and presentations intended to highlight gaps and/or concentration of intevention.