U.S. AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
BUREAU FOR DEMOCRACY, CONFLICT, AND HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE (DCHA)
NUMBERS AT A GLANCE
|Affected population – Niger||
|Government of Niger, August 19, 2005|
|Affected population – Mali||
|WFP (1), August 5, 2005|
|Affected population – Mauritania||
|WFP, August 5, 2005|
|Affected population – Burkina Faso||
|WFP, August 5, 2005|
|Total Affected Population (2)||4,800,000|
Total FY 2005 USAID Assistance to Niger, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Senegal, and Sahel Regional Locust Response: $133,892,006
The Assistant Administrator of USAID's Bureau of Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance (USAID/DCHA), Michael Hess, is currently on a 10-day trip to Niger and Mali to visit USAID-funded projects in affected areas and conduct humanitarian assessments with USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team (USAID/DART) representatives in the field.
U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan arrived in Niger on August 23 to begin a two-day visit. According to international media reports, Secretary General Annan will visit a feeding center and a hospital in Zinder and meet with President Mamadou Tandja and representatives from the U.N. and other humanitarian organizations.
From August 19 to 21, Assistant Administrator Hess traveled with the USAID/DART to Tahoua Region. In the village of Kalfou Dabagui, the delegation observed CARE's distribution of food assistance provided by the Government of Niger (GON). All 462 households in the village were eligible to receive this food assistance, consisting of 50 kg of rice for households of 4 or fewer people and 100 kg of rice for households with 5 or more people. U.N. World Food Program (WFP) food commodities are expected to arrive in one to two weeks. According to the mayor and village chiefs, households in Kalfou Dabagui lost on average approximately 60 percent of their livestock. However, the village mayor noted that crop and grazing conditions will likely be good this season if the rains continue until September.
On August 20, Assistant Administrator Hess and the USAID/DART traveled to Akoubounou, Tahoua Region, a semi-nomadic and pastoralist village of the Touareg ethnic group. The delegation met with the village mayor and court of Touareg tribal chiefs, who represent approximately 25,000 people. According to the representatives interviewed, the tribes have lost a high percentage of livestock since last year, with some households losing their entire herds. The hardest hit animals were cattle and sheep. The representatives indicated that the only assistance received to date is the GON's subsidized sale of cereals; however, food distributions from WFP are expected. The Touareg representatives stated that their assistance priorities include water, livestock recovery, and agriculture.
From August 12 to 18, the USAID/DART traveled to Zinder and Diffa regions in southeastern Niger to conduct assessments. Based on interviews and first-hand observations, the team concluded that a number of factors, including the ability to pay for potable water, food, and health care; and the impact of malaria, poor hygiene, and local weaning practices, contributed to elevated child malnutrition and mortality in rural areas.
The USAID/DART reported that water and sanitation deficiencies they observed are the status quo in villages they visited. The team noted an absence of famine indicators and a lack of evidence of an acute malnutrition crisis, emphasizing that at present, most households are eating two to three meals per day. Most pastoralist and agro-pastoralist households in the region have depleted livestock holdings, due either to death or liquidation of their stocks in 2005. However, pastoralists reported an excellent evolution of pasture and a strong recovery of all animals. Animal prices have also recovered in the past month. Pastoralists with camels told the USAID/DART that they were able to sell their animals at good prices in Libya.
According to WFP, a bridge located in Guene, Benin, 15 km from the Niger border, washed out on August 11, delaying the transport of more than 7,000 metric tons (MT) of WFP food assistance. WFP has rerouted 4,000 MT of assistance through Burkina Faso. According to the USAID/DART, Médecins sans Frontières reported that the problems with the bridge are delaying the arrival of therapeutic feeding foods in Niger. WFP reported that the Government of Benin is constructing a dirt bypass route scheduled to be functional by August 25.
In discussions with several national, regional, and local authorities, the USAID/DART determined that the Government of Mali (GOM) appears to be in agreement at all levels that while the food security situation is a cause for concern, with the exception of some households, no food crisis or catastrophe exists in Mali at the moment. According to the USAID/DART, food security in Mali remains critically dependent on rainfall in the coming weeks. A number of areas have not received good rains for the past two weeks. If two or three more decent rains fall, pastoralists and animals will likely manage; if the rains fail, coping mechanisms will be further eroded, and the lean season will begin earlier next year.
The USAID/DART reported that the rainy season in many areas of the north of Mali began in the first part of June 2005, earlier than average. The rains stopped suddenly one month later, and the grasses that recently started growing began drying out. Pastoralists in some hard-hit areas, particularly in Kidal Region, began migrating southward very early in the lean season to the last pasture reserves. These conditions put added stress on communities with already depleted resources. In the past week, however, the rains have reappeared and continue to fall, albeit sporadically in some areas, giving a measure of relief to a precarious situation.
On August 18, the USAID/DART conducted an informal survey of grain prices among pastoralists in the Goundam area. Animal prices are significantly devalued due to animals' poor health and deflated market conditions. The USAID/DART reported that market prices for grains are substantially high—double or triple the usual price in some areas—compared to normal years. The terms of trade used by nomadic populations to exchange animals for grain have deteriorated markedly.
GOM and village leaders who met with the USAID/DART agreed that certain communities require support during the current lean season. Typically, the lean season lasts two to three months, from August to October. In some areas, however, the lean season began in November 2004, and for others in April 2005. For this reason, coping mechanisms are being exhausted and many government leaders reported that farmers are consuming seeds and taking on large amounts of debt and some pastoralists were migrating to reserve pastures.
Burkina Faso Update
According to the USAID/DART, USAID implementing partner Catholic Relief Services (CRS) reported that although recent rainfall has rendered some agricultural plots more lush, the crop outcome is still in the balance. Since rainfall is variable and it is still early in the crop development, it is not yet possible to predict an outcome. The Ministry of Agriculture informed the USAID/DART that a crop projection will be carried out in September as is normally done. Early cessation of rainfall, could lead to yield loss and greater food needs in the months to come.
According to the USAID-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), Burkina Faso is not experiencing a generalized food crisis, although there are pockets of concern for food insecurity. In the 2004/2005 growing season, a surplus of approximately 435,000 MT of grain was produced. The 2003/2004 growing season was a record year for production, with a surplus of approximately 997,000 MT of grain. Evaluations performed in February, April, and June 2005 by U.N. agencies and FEWS NET indicated that existing food security problems are associated with access to and availability of food in the most affected areas. In such areas, an increase in grain prices and decrease in livestock prices have led to a deterioration of the terms of trade of livestock for food.
FEWS NET reported that in Burkina Faso, a rise in child malnutrition often occurs during the lean period before the harvest. A June 2005 assessment identified the malnutrition rate among children at approximately 17 percent, comparable to the malnutrition rate of other years in Burkina Faso. FEWS NET reported that malnutrition is a concern in all regions of the country, with some areas more seriously affected than others. FEWS NET reported that its analysis did not establish a direct correlation between the level of agricultural production and malnutrition rates in the country.
WFP reported that the August 3 coup did not significantly disrupt commodity distributions. According to FEWS NET, food security levels have stabilized and improved in areas that have received WFP commodities. However, food insecurity is increasing in areas that have not received significant rains. Where rains have fallen, the terms of trade have improved for pastoralists. According to WFP, as of mid-August, the agro-pastoral regions of Mauritania have received above-average rainfall, benefiting agricultural and pastoral activities. The onset of rains, however, as slowed distributions in southern Mauritania. In addition, seasonal flooding has cut off parts of Maghama, Mbout, Markeol, and Kankossa districts from WFP warehouses. Because of fuel shortages in Tidjikja, food distributions in parts of the Tagant region have slowed.
Since it began distributing emergency commodities in April 2005, WFP has distributed approximately 18,600 MT of food to more than 400,000 beneficiaries in the regions of Brakna, Gorgol, Tagant, Assaba, and Hodh El Gharbi. WFP and its implementing partners have continued food distributions in spite of recent rains.
WFP reported that it is funding a food distribution to 16,000 children and nursing mothers in more than 200 WFPsupported feeding centers. When school resumes with the start of the academic year in October, school feeding activities will resume. WHO plans to reach an additional 17,000 beneficiaries through its school feeding activites compared with the previous academic year.
(1) U.N. World Food Program
(2) Affected populations may have varying levels of need, from complete food distributions to little or no assistance.
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