Niger + 3 more

Sahelian West Africa - Humanitarian Emergency Fact Sheet #5, Fiscal Year (FY) 2005


Note: The last fact sheet was dated August 26, 2005.

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)

Total FY 2005 USAID Assistance to Niger, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Senegal, and Sahel Regional Locust Response: $133,892,006


Regional Update

The Assistant Administrator of USAID’s Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance

(USAID/DCHA), Michael Hess, traveled to Niger and Mali from August 19 to 28 to visit USAID-funded projects in affected areas and conduct humanitarian assessments with USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team (USAID/DART) representatives in the field. Assistant Administrator Hess and his delegation reported that fields are green and crops appear abundant and healthy throughout Mali, and that Niger will probably have a good harvest this year. However, Assistant Administrator Hess expressed concern with household debt levels throughout the region due to household borrowing to survive the current lean season and carry-over debt from the lean season in 2004.

Niger Update

From August 9 to 26, the USAID/DART, including the public health and nutrition advisor, visited Diffa, Tillaberi, and Zinder regions to monitor partner program implementation and identify unmet needs. The team also met with NGOs and U.N. partners in Niamey to better understand the nutrition situation countrywide. The USAID/DART found that the nutrition crisis is localized, data collection is poor, and the health system does not function adequately. Some households have increased vulnerability due to poor harvests and animal losses in 2004, and poor feeding and caring for infants and children contribute to malnutrition.

Based on these findings, the USAID/DART recommended that emergency responses to save the lives of malnourished children be coupled with activities that build the resilience of poorer and vulnerable households, including livelihoods recovery programs such as cash-for-work, cash-for-relief, animal health, food production, and seed voucher programs. In addition, activities that allow the health system and the Government of Niger to respond to the recurring nutrition crisis, as well as appropriate health and hygiene messages, are critical to address chronic acute malnutrition and save lives in the long term in vulnerable areas of Niger.

In Niger, Médecins Sans Frontières/France (MSF/F) reports treating 19,414 severely malnourished children since January 1 at the MSF/F therapeutic feeding centers (TFCs) in Tahoua and Maradi regions. During the week of August 8 to 14, MSF/F admitted 1,900 children. As of August 14, MSF/F was treating 873 children as inpatients and 5,853 as outpatients. MSF/Switzerland began operations on July 21 in southern Zinder Region and is currently treating 450 children as inpatients and 1,800 as outpatients. On August 15, MSF/Holland opened a center in Diffa Region.

According to the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the U.N. World Health Organization (WHO), 188 cases of cholera with 18 deaths -- representing a case-fatality rate (CFR) of 9.6 percent -- were reported in Tahoua Region between July 13 and August 29. Last year, 2,176 cases and 57 deaths were reported. Cases are spreading along the Magia wadi, a temporary river formed during the rainy season.

The MOH has reported 277,620 malaria cases and 547 deaths in Niger since January 1. The U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and WHO are currently distributing approximately 130,000 insecticide-treated bed nets to severely malnourished children in the most vulnerable regions. WHO reports that approximately 777,000 cases and 2,000 deaths related to malaria are notified each year in Niger. The months of greatest risk for exposure are July to September, which coincide with the rainy season.

UNICEF reported 2,132 measles cases with 16 deaths between January 1 and July 23 in Niger. During the same period in 2004, 63,726 measles cases and 487 deaths were reported. UNICEF attributes this year’s reduction in cases to the 98 percent coverage achieved during the measles vaccination campaigns conducted in December 2004 in 6 of the 8 regions of Niger. UNICEF and MOH plan to conduct a final measles campaign this month in the two regions of the country not already covered.

Mali Update

On August 30, the USAID/DART traveled to Timbuktu and stopped at a cattle market in the village of Kahume. The area had good pasturelands, and livestock appeared to be in excellent condition. According to local reports to the USAID/DART, in normal times, one cow is worth 100,000 to 150,000 CFA ($186 to $280), while one goat is worth 15,000 CFA ($28). Animals were selling for much less than this: goats on average sold for 5,000 CFA ($9), and cows sold for 45,000 to 50,000 CFA ($83 to $93). Rice and millet were selling at 30,000 CFA ($56) per 100 kg bag, higher than the average 10,000 CFA ($18) for 100 kg of millet and 20,000 CFA ($37) for 100 kg of rice.

From August 26 to 28, Assistant Administrator Hess traveled with USAID/DART and USAID/Mali representatives to affected areas of Gao Region, including N’Tillit and Bourem districts. The delegation met with government officials, NGOs, and community groups to discuss the causes and effects of the current food insecurity situation, focusing on water management, livestock health, agriculture, nutrition, and household debt levels. The delegation also visited the TFC opened on July 1 at Gao Hospital and operated by Action Contre le Faim (ACF). On the day of the visit, 10 children were receiving treatment in the nutrition ward. The TFC treated 11 children in July and 18 as of the date of the visit in August.

On August 25, the USAID/DART traveled to Tin-Aouker, approximately 70 km north of Gao, for the weekly livestock market. Local officials noted that they had received four to five consecutive years of poor rains, with last year being the most difficult, and that the area was not affected by locusts in 2004 because there was no grass to devour. The USAID/DART observed that the weekly market in this area, which locals stated had boasted hundreds of animals in past years, contained approximately a dozen goats. Residents noted that animals were not being sold both because many had died, and because animals currently fetch poor prices. Area residents told the USAID/DART that in addition to food, they are concerned with expanding and improving water points, and they need better access to credit so that young people who are unemployed could begin small community businesses rather than leaving the community in search of work.

On August 23 and 24, the USAID/DART program officer met with six leading humanitarian NGOs in Bamako to discuss food insecurity, the effects of the situation on country programs, and whether these NGOs had changed strategies as a result. Although opinions varied from considering the situation an emergency to viewing it as normal for this time of year, several NGOs had shifted programming to some extent. These NGOs believe that the present situation is not an emergency that approaches levels of severity of previous years or in other countries, and they hold that the immediate needs are likely to resolve themselves with the next harvest. However, food insecurity is severe in scattered pockets that are often remote and hard to access, primarily in the north of Mali. The NGOs agreed that structural problems -- which ultimately must be addressed by development programs -- are the root cause of the food insecurity.

According to the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS), the water levels in all the watercourses in Mali rose in July. Hydrological and climatic forecasts indicate that good rainfall conditions will extend into September. Some mature solitary adult desert locusts were observed in central Adrar des Iforas and Tamesna; as ecological conditions improve, small-scale locust breeding could occur.

Burkina Faso Update

According to the USAID/DART, beginning in November 2004, the Government of Burkina Faso (GOBF) undertook a survey of households in northern Burkina Faso that had lost 100 percent of their crops, and the GOBF allocated 500 MT of cereals to these households. In February 2005, as prices continued to increase, the GOBF released 2,000 MT of millet, sold at a subsidized price of 5,000 CFA ($9) per 100 kg bag, to the market to stabilize the prices. In May/June 2005, the GOBF released another 7,000 MT of millet, sold at 10,000 CFA ($18) per 100 kg bag, to 11 affected provinces. In July 2005, the GOBF released 5,000 MT of millet for sale at 10,000 CFA ($18) per 100 kg bag.

From August 24 to August 27, the USAID/DART conducted a field assessment in the Northern Region, composed of Loroum, Yatenga, Zondoma, and Passore provinces, and the Sahel Region, composed of Soum, Seno, Oudalan, and Yagha provinces. The USAID/DART’s objectives for this assessment were to conduct focus group discussions on the food security situation with village residents in Yatenga, Loroum, and Seno provinces, and to meet with community leaders in areas of Seno and Oudalan provinces where residents benefited from seed fairs. The USAID/DART consistently found that residents had been eating almost exclusively wild leaves over a long period of time. Eating leaves and wild fruits is a lean season coping mechanism practiced throughout the Sahel when families run short of food supplies before the next harvest comes. In all areas visited, the USAID/DART found residents selling their assets, including jewelry, tools, and animals, to purchase food.

During the August 24 to 27 assessment, the USAID/DART discussed Catholic Relief Services’ (CRS) May and June 2005 seed fair programs with a village chief of Falagountou in Seno Province and with a government official in Oudalan Province. Both individuals stated that CRS’ seed fair interventions were the appropriate activity undertaken at exactly the right time. The U.N. World Food Program (WFP) reported that farmers who benefited from this program have fields with crops in an advanced state of development. According to local officials, program beneficiaries will begin harvesting in approximately two weeks.

The Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) has raised the number of people estimated to live below the poverty line in Burkina Faso from 1 million to 1.5 million. This population requires assistance due to weak purchasing power and lack of productive assets. In meetings with the USAID/DART, the MOA acknowledged that the provinces of Loroum, Soum, and Oudalan, among others, are experiencing food crises, but described these situations as isolated problems. The MOA is interested in pursuing small-scale irrigation projects and dry season farming in northern Burkina Faso, and reinforcing the food security reserve.

On August 23, the USAID/DART met with an official from WFP. WFP noted that the situation in Burkina Faso is not as severe as that of Niger or Mali because Burkina Faso had three years of relatively good harvests, with 2002/2003 being an average year and 2003/2004 and 2004/2005 both surplus years. Burkina Faso was also not as affected by locusts or drought. Additionally, early emergency interventions by the GOBF, U.N. agencies, and NGOs, starting in November 2004 and scheduled to continue until October 2005, alleviated the food insecurity situation in Burkina Faso. WFP noted that coordination between organizations involved in food security issues has been excellent, and that more than 90 percent of all food distributions have gone to the provinces identified as most affected.

On August 22, USAID/DART and U.S. Embassy/Ouagadougou representatives met with a food security specialist from the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) to discuss the food security situation in Burkina Faso. The FEWS NET representative stated that pastoralists in northern Burkina Faso have no food reserves, and water for animals is scarce. In some areas, the terms of trade have deteriorated from 4 goats for 100 kg of millet in 2004 to 10 goats for 100 kg of millet in mid-2005.

Mauritania Update

Two USAID/DART representatives have been conducting assessments with WFP, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and FEWS NET representatives in the past week.

On August 27 and 28, the USAID/DART visited Rosso, Trarza Region to hold evaluation meetings with the communities of Hassy Hamidine and Mbalal. On August 30, the USAID/DART traveled to Ayoun in Hodh el Gharbi Region, and Nema in Hodh Ech Chargui Region, to meet with NGOs and perform site visits to Bassikinou, Fassala, Bousteila, and Hodh Ech Chargui.


(1) U.N. World Food Program

(2) Affected populations may have varying levels of need, from complete food distributions to little or no assistance.

MAP: Ongoing USAID programs in the Sahel (as of 2 Sep 2005)

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