Drought, hunger, terror: In Niger, 2.8 million people are acutely threatened by hunger. Pre-existing conflicts and climate change are to blame. In recent months, there has been hardly any rain. The drought is now compounded by sanctions as a result of the government crisis. Large parts of the population are cut off from the supply of essential goods. The people are left with nothing. SWISSAID is providing rapid assistance with an emergency plan consisting of food parcels and seeds.
The most important measures are the distribution of food packages to the most vulnerable and the distribution of seeds at a seed fair. The latter aims to help smallholder farmers expand their agroecological production capacities.
Withered brown fields, empty granaries, not a green plant far and wide; the starving women, children and men sit seeking shade in front of their small straw huts. Children cry. A few days later: torrential rain pelts down on the land, the heavy rains flood the land, the fields are under water.
Mamoudou Mahamadou, a small farmer and family man from Kieché in the southwest of Niger, experienced this nightmare two years ago. First he had to watch helplessly as his entire harvest dried up and later the rain flooded his fields. People feared the worst, millions of people were threatened with starvation. Djamila Abdoulaje also had to give up hope for a good harvest.
In this great Need sWISSAID has been able to provide food and seed and the suffering of those most in need a little alleviate: 68,894 people received food parcels thanks to SWISSAID’s rapid help Food parcels, 470,000 kilograms of food containing grain, cooking oil and salt were distributed. Dhe seed packages have enabled the Families again Vegetables grow and provide for themselves.
Because of the drought we could not we could not sow the sparse properly.
Djamila Abdoulaje, 30, farmer and mother of four children
Renewed food shortages and crop failures
Now the suffering of the people continues. A few weeks ago, the country was again hit by severe droughts and floods. In the regions of Dosso and Tillabéry, the washed away fields show a picture of devastation and, due to the failure of the harvests, the hunger situation has worsened dramatically. Because their last supplies have been used up, numerous families are already leaving their villages.
In recent years, the harvests have been very poor. Two years ago I had hope that the harvest would be good. But the heavy floods destroyed my entire field.
Mariama Bagué, 47, farmer and mother of five children
An already critical situation
According to UN estimates, almost one in ten people in Niger is currently suffering from acute hunger. The worst affected are the very poorest, with over 2.8 million lives at risk.according to the UN, this number can rise to an estimated three million during the so-called “hunger months,” the period before the next harvest. The causes are many: drought and flood cycles are becoming more intense, the Covid 19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine have driven up prices, and people have not yet recovered from the consequences of the disastrous harvests of recent years.
According to the Hunger Map of the World Food Program (WFP) practically virtually the entire population can no longer feed itself adequately (navigate to Niger in the country search box at the top left).
I had nothing to eat. I could not even find millet to make porridge. Thanks to the support of SWISSAID, I received millet, salt and oil. Now we can eat twice a day and my children don’t have to go hungry anymore.
Mamou Amadou, 45, farmer and mother of 6 children
Emergency plan for the hungry people
Now, SWISSAID’s local roots for over 40 years are once again paying off: The SWISSAID office in Niger was able to respond quickly through contacts on the ground and draw up an emergency plan for those in need.
In a first step, food packages ensure the survival of the most vulnerable people. With seeds that germinate even under difficult conditions and training in ecological cultivation, we are preventing further crop failures and arming the farming families against future natural disasters.
Providing emergency aid with food packages
Together with the World Food Programme (WFP), SWISSAID has put together a food package to ensure the survival of the most vulnerable people: each family receives 50 kg of rice or millet, 25 kg of beans, 5 l of oil, 10 kg of iodized salt and 2 bags of fortified baby food.
Drought-resistant seeds and irrigation
High-quality, drought-resistant and fast-growing seeds and new irrigation methods ensure the next harvest. The introduction of vegetables, moringa and potatoes also ensures that the area under cultivation can be increased and malnutrition prevented.
Training in climate-adapted cultivation
Through organic farming, smallholders learn to increase their yields and build up stocks despite difficult conditions. This strengthens them for the future and makes them better prepared for droughts and floods. Beneficiaries will be able to participate in training on agroecology, and agroecology focal points will be available in each intervention community to advise farm families on organic fertilizer production, compost making, and various agroecological practices.
Sustainable emergency aid: seed fair, trainings and local support
Emergency aid is the first and most important step in this hunger crisis. However, after the initial relief, we do not leave the people in need alone. We stay on the ground and help them become more resilient to extreme conditions. In this way, migration is to be prevented:
- SWISSAID organizes a seed fair. It is one of the most important events for farmers. They learn about new seeds and receive seed vouchers to trade in. They also learn agro-ecological methods.
- In the Dogondoutchi region, SWISSAID and its partners are planning to cultivate legumes and field crops. They are more nutritious, have better nutritional values and are more resilient than enriched flour, which is only intended for short-term use.
- In response to the rise in the price of wheat flour, SWISSAID is supporting 13 bakeries that produce bread from local grain flour. This adds value to local products, makes people less dependent on imported wheat and preserves jobs.
For the futures wish for the future Mariama Bagué, only one thing: Alife without hunger, especially for her Children. «I hope me one day I won’t have to worry about food all the time», says the mother of five. Also Djamila Abdoulaje dreams of a life without hunger: «My children and I want nothing less than to be to be spared from famine from from famine.»