NIGER FOOD CRISIS

by Mads Nissen

Niger

2005

The poorest country in the world: Zinder and Maradi regions.

Niger is the poorest country in the world, and was in 2005 experiencing the worst food crisis in twenty years. For every 10,000th inhabitants, about six children under five years died every day. This is almost three times the international measure for an emergency situation.

Grasshoppers and a drought in 2004 resulted in a catastrophic harvest. As the food vanished, and hunger struck the barren African soil, farmers was forced to eat their seeds, while herders slaughter the skinny herd that would provide them next year’s income.

Humanitarian organizations pleaded for help, but none came. And starvation became the norm for three to four million people.

Doctors without borders/ medecins sans frontieres (MSF) has treated 63,000 malnourished children in Niger last year. This is the largest number for any single mission in the history of the organization. 11% of children under the age of five has so far been treated for some kind of malnourishing.

As it wasn’t bad enough, Niger recently hit the bottom in the annual UNDP -United Nations Development Program – list over poverty and development in the world. Announcing Niger as the very poorest country in the world.

And many things are missing in the warm and sandy land; people are not just in shortage of food and drinking water, all most anything from education, infrastructure, to basic higiene and medical-care is yet to be seen. Life expectancy at birth is no more than 43 years old. (average life expectancy)

Niger became independent from France in 1960, and is now being ruled by a democratic elected government. But even in the capital Niamey, you can hardly buy a Coca-cola in the streets. Because who can effort a simple soft-drink, in a country where dying of hunger is a real and daily threat?