Technical 541 niger_site_art1


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Living in Niger Home Page

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Technical 541 niger_site_art1

  1. 1. Living in Niger Home Page Page 1 of 3 Crisis in Niger MARADI, Niger (AFP) - Relief groups said that if donors had heeded Nigers appeals for assistance last November, the west African state would not be on the verge of a crisis in which thousands of children risk death from severe malnutrition. Of 14 appeals for aid to Africa made so far this year by UN agencies, eight have received just one for every five dollars requested, or less than 20 percent of the amount of the appeal. The 16 million-dollar appeal in June for Niger has so far only netted about five million dollars (four million euros), not nearly enough to coordinate the purchase, storage and distribution of the millet, sorghum and rice crops that are staples in the arid nations national diet. Niger recorded deficits in cereal production in the hundreds of thousands of tons after the 2004 harvest from its parched cropland, which had been decimated by an invasion of hungry desert locusts, the worst in more than a decade. Gian Carlo Cirri, country director for the UNs World Food Program, told AFP that an initial aid package of six million euros sought in November would have been sufficient to purchase needed grain reserves to sustain the most vulnerable among Nigers 12 million people over the lean season. "Now we need over 15 million euros (in aid)," Cirri said. "Weve been ringing the alarm bell since last October and only now, now that children are dying, are we starting to receive attention and help." More than 10,000 Niger children are being treated for malnutrition at therapeutic feeding centers scattered around the countrys north and center, the regions hardest-hit by the hunger crisis. The town of Maradi, some 620 kilometers (372 miles) east of the capital Niamey, is considered the epicenter of the "silent hunger" sweeping Niger, mostly affecting already vulnerable populations of children and their mothers. "Were seeing more and more children with severe malnutrition," said Doctor Innocent Ntunzimbona, grabbing spare seconds between treating listless children with shriveled bodies and swollen bellies at a Medecins Sans Frontieres camp here. "Every week the numbers rise, the cases get worse and the children hover closer to death. And its only going to get worse." Perennial donors to Niger, ranked above only war-torn Sierra Leone on the UNs Human Development Index, have begun slowly to heed the dire warnings from relief groups. The European Union last week announced some 4.6 million euros in humanitarian aid to Niger, most of which will be targeted nutritional support. Aid has trickled in from northern neighbors Algeria, Libya and Morocco in the form of dates, fruit juice and powdered milk, while Saudi Arabia, the UAE and China have also donated food and money to the starving nation. But problems with distribution and the paucity of a social services network have meant that even these donations are not reaching the population in time. "Despite our early requests for help, mobilization by the international community has been slow," said Doctor Seydou Bakary, coordinator of the Niger governments food crisis unit. "We are doing what we can with what little we have." The following is a recent news report from FACT BOX: voa31.cfm PLEASE HELP! The people of Niger are in The French humanitarian organization Doctors desperate trouble right Without Borders (Medcins Sans Frontieres) has now and need all of our warned that a crisis is emerging in southern Niger help. Please help spread where the agency has seen a worrying increase in the word. The biggest severely malnourished children. problem is that not many people are even The head of the Doctors Without Borders mission in aware there is a Niger, Johannes Sekkenes, says that every week problem. I know not all between 200 to 250 children are admitted to feeding of us have the extrafile://C:UserspgalesDocumentsSchool_541_WebMultiMediaDevelopmentFinal_Project... 4/3/2011
  2. 2. Living in Niger Home Page Page 2 of 3 money to send but we all have voices and fingers and we can spread the word until it gets to someone who does have the money.file://C:UserspgalesDocumentsSchool_541_WebMultiMediaDevelopmentFinal_Project... 4/3/2011
  3. 3. Living in Niger Home Page Page 3 of 3 centers in the Maradi and Tahoua districts of southern Niger, a 300 percent increase from previous years. Ms. Sekkenes says that the children they are receiving at feeding centers are very, very thin, and suffering from severe malnutrition. She says many of the children are at risk of dying from lack of food if not given immediate medical care. The humanitarian agency has opened an additional feeding center in Maradi and will open another in Tahoua to try and cope with the numbers of children who need help. Children suffering from malnutrition have thin arms, but distended bellies as their livers have become enlarged. In extreme cases, the body starts to consume its own tissues, and people acquire a skeletal appearance. Long-term effects of child malnutrition are uncertain, but some children have been known to suffer mental retardation. Ms. Sekkenes says that she is very pessimistic and does not think that the situation will improve. She says that Niger is still approaching the season between two harvests when food is normally scarce. Niger journalist, Ousmane Toudou, says that even in Nigers capital Niamey, people are finding it difficult to afford food, but for people in rural areas it is much worse. Mr. Toudou says that people in the countryside do not have the means to buy food, and normally they would grow their own. Harvests last year failed in Niger due to a combination of drought and swarms locusts which ate young, growing crops across the Sahel region. With grain stores depleted and growing food shortages, prices of food in one of the worlds poorest countries have dramatically increased. There are a few different ways to help, as I said the most important being spreading the word. Another way is to contribute directly to a food bank that is being set up to help villages get through the rainy season. Here are the instructions. Send money direct to the woman doing cereal banks. So, heres the 5 step process... 1. Please send a check to our diplomatic pouch address: Julianna White 2420 Niamey Place Dulles, VA 20189-2420 2. In the interim, please email us the dollar amount you are sending. and 3. We will take cash a check locally here to get CFA (the Nigerien currency) into the hands of the folks doing the cereal bank construction as quickly as possible. 4. When your check arrives to our address after 10-14 days, we will then deposit this to cover the costs. 5. Sound good?...Questions? Great, then send your check and email and you will be making the ultimate difference in some peoples lives. This is one of the most legitimate ways to help that there is. The only better way would be to fly there and give it to the women and children yourself. There is also another effort that you can find out more about at a friends website, It is just being set up and should have more information on how you can help soon. This site is dedicated to giving people a glimpse into the lives of the people of Niger and the Peace Corps volunteers living among them. This site is the culmination of many volunteers experiences over the past 6 years and will hopefully open many peoples eyes as to what life is like living in the country of Niger. You may note that I have not yet written anything favorable about Niger yet. This website will do its best to give an unbiased view, or at least present both sides. When I was offered the opportunity to go to Niger to serve in the Peace Corps for two years there was not much I could find that told me what life was like for a volunteer living there. I found plenty of statistics and facts, but very few real world perspectives. Hopefully this website will help others who are thinking of going to Niger, either to serve, or visit. Niger is a place of startling contrasts. The environment is both beautiful and forbidding at the same time. The people of Niger are subject to some of the harshest conditions on earth, but are the most amiable and welcoming people you will ever meet. The question that most volunteers are asked upon their return from service is "Well how was it?" or "How did you like it?". Personally, I have to stifle a laugh when people pose this question to me. The short answer is that it was the hardest thing I have ever done and probably will ever do, and if I had known what it was going to be like before I left, I would have never gone. But I would never trade the experience that I had there for anything, and knowing what I know now, I would do it again in a heartbeat, and recommend it to you as well.file://C:UserspgalesDocumentsSchool_541_WebMultiMediaDevelopmentFinal_Project... 4/3/2011