The humanitarian context
The food crisis in the Sahel region in 2012 affected the Nigerien population severely. Poor crop production, increased food prices as well as a significant number of Nigerien returnees fleeing the conflicts in Libya, Ivory Coast, Mali and Nigeria, made access to food and other basic items very difficult. According to the director of the agricultural development department of Tanout, seven out of ten people faced food insecurity in April 2012. In this context, approximately 501 households were displaced to the city of Agadez and 725 households to the city of Zinder, fleeing from escalating food insecurity in their villages of origin. Subsequently, these households were identified by the Regional Committees for the Prevention and Management of Disasters and Food Crises in Zinder and Agadez (CRPGCA).
Seasonal population outflow is a normal phenomenon in Niger, but the emigration of entire families at the end of a season – as was the case at the beginning of 2012 – is exceptional. Starting in June 2012, inter-regional missions were organised to evaluate the general situation in the villages of origin of displaced households and the places where they sought refuge. The host communities and authorities in the regions of origin were involved in this evaluation process. The results showed that the environmental conditions in the villages of origin of the returned refugees were favourable (in terms of security, stability, arrival of first rains) while the economic situation of households was getting worse. Renewed displacements were observed, with rural households taking refuge in urban centres either in their region of origin or in regions further away – data which was confirmed by the CRPGCA census.
The increase of precarious and unhealthy housing conditions in zones of high flooding risk was observed too. There was also a sudden rise in begging by women and children in the cities and the imminent arrival of the sowing season coupled with the general context of humanitarian crises in the country pushed the local authorities and the Government to make an appeal for emergency assistance to the international community of NGOs working in Niger, in order to repatriate internally displaced people (IDPs) as quickly as possible.
ASB has been working in the regions of Zinder and Agadez since 2005 and specialises in food crisis response as well as risk prevention management. It was therefore well placed to respond to this appeal.
After coordinating with other NGOs working in the region, ASB centered its action on internally displaced households. The results of a preliminary study and the census undertaken by the regional committees of Agadez and Zinder in April 2012 (nearly 501 and 725 households respectively) show that the majority of displaced households were classed as ‘very poor’ since they had difficulties covering their basic needs (food, shelter, hygiene, health etc.) and had adopted negative survival strategies (e.g. selling off productive assets before their departure).