Mamoudou Mahamadou, a small farmer and father from Kieche in the southwest of Niger, experienced every farmer’s worst nightmare. He had to watch helplessly as his entire harvest dried up. Unfortunately, he is not the only one in this situation.
The drought at the end of 2021, the climate crisis and the conflicts in the region have long threatened the food security of the population. Since March, the consequences of the war in Ukraine further aggravate the situation. Fuel and food prices soared in record time, because Niger is heavily dependent on imports. According to our estimates, about 4.4 million people, or 18% of the Nigerien population, are currently at serious risk of hunger. This is twice as many as in November 2021. Some regions are on the verge of famine.
Hunger crisis in Niger
Seeds and food parcels to relieve hunger
In December 2021, SWISSAID immediately responded to the threat by launching a targeted emergency aid project. At the beginning of 2022, high-quality seeds were distributed to over 5,000 households. As early as March, farmers were able to harvest fast-growing amaranth and lettuce. From April onwards, cabbage, moringa and beans supplemented the families‘ menu.
When the rains stopped last autumn, my entire harvest withered. It was an incredibly difficult time for my family – especially for my children. As a mother, there is nothing worse than seeing your children suffer. I am so relieved that I was able to plant my fields again. SWISSAID’s help came at just the right time.
Rakia, 55 years, married, 6 children
At the end of May 2022, SWISSAID organised a seed fair in Dogondoutchi. More than 1,000 people took part. Thanks to vouchers worth 18,000 FCFA (around 27 Swiss francs), beneficiaries were able to buy high-quality seeds adapted to local conditions.
In the meantime, the first food parcels were successfully distributed. Families in need received packages containing rice, niébé, oil and salt. The food is mainly distributed to female-headed households as well as to people in particular need such as the disabled, the chronically ill and the elderly.
The food parcel saved our lives. Our supplies were completely depleted at that time. Without this help, I would have been forced to ask my neighbours for support. Now my children and I have enough energy again to work in the fields.
Mamoudou Mahamado, 52 years, small farmer and father of 9 children
On-going help from SWISSAID
Thanks to the vegetables from the emergency seeds harvested in spring and the food parcels, the families have enough to eat for the moment. However, further distribution campaigns are already planned to get them through the difficult period until the next rainy season and the life-saving harvest in September. This is when millet, the staple food in Africa, will be harvested. Mamoudou and Rakia are already hoping for a good harvest so that they can finally feed their families again.