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The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2012: Niger

The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2012: Niger
Dec 2011

Each year, up to 3.5 million people in the Niger rely on humanitarian assistance.

Two-thirds of the population – about 10 million people – lives on less than USD 1 per day. The country’s already limited natural resources are increasingly affected by climate change.

Sociopolitical upheaval in parts of North and West Africa have led to the return of over 240 000 migrants to the Niger between February and September 2011. Most returned to vulnerable communities that relied on their remittances as a key coping mechanism during times of crisis, thus increasing the burden on these communities and decreasing their income.

Challenges facing food security and livelihoods

Climate change has left people in the Niger increasingly vulnerable to food and nutrition insecurity. Four out of five people live in rural areas.

In the last decade, the country faced three major food crises as a result of drought and/or locust outbreaks: 2000/01, 2004/05 and 2009/10. The combined efforts of the Government and partners prevented a humanitarian catastrophe in the wake of the most recent crisis in 2010. Despite a good 2010/11 agricultural season, many rural families are unable to access enough food, and over 2 million people still face chronic food insecurity.

Irregular and poorly distributed rains in July and August 2011 will likely affect crop (sorghum and millet) harvests in 2012. Crop and pasture production is further threatened by recent outbreaks of plant pests (rangeland grasshoppers). The country’s cereal deficit stands at nearly 520 000 tonnes, which is almost 14 percent of national requirements. Low crop production and reliance on food imports are contributing to rising food prices, further eroding food security.

Poor fodder production – current levels meet only about 50 percent of animal needs – is threatening the livelihoods of herders, who are still recovering from the high levels of livestock mortality experienced during the 2009/10 season.

Food security in pastoral areas is determined by milk production, the sale of animal products and food prices in local markets. Increased cereal prices due to crop failures and low prices for livestock products will reduce household purchasing power, leaving herders and their families more food insecure in 2012.

Women have not benefited from economic and social progress to the same extent as men in the Niger and are less able to recover from crises, as they lack access to vital resources, such as land. Children were particularly affected by the 2009/10 crisis – half of children under age five suffer from chronic malnutrition.

FAO response

In 2012, FAO seeks to link relief and development efforts in the Niger through a combination of humanitarian assistance and efforts to build the resilience of farmers and herders.

FAO aims to strengthen agricultural livelihoods and transition to development by rehabilitating cereal banks, supporting agricultural marketing and establishing school and home vegetable gardens.

To restore and strengthen crop production, FAO will provide farmers with improved seed varieties that are better adapted to climate variability, as well as fertilizers and inputs for plant protection.

With donor funding, FAO will assist herders by protecting high fodder production areas and providing animal health support. Training on the preparation of multinutrient blocks, distributing animal feed and strategic destocking (selling weaker animals to protect herds) will help prevent animal losses due to starvation. Pastoralist field schools will be set up to promote awareness and introduce new animal production techniques, enabling herders to better cope with crises in the future.