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2005 Niger/Mali Famine

Niger and Mali Famine

SOS Children Emergency Relief 2005

High ground to work in Niger

Niger and Mali are never going to be easy places to live but for some subsistence farmers living off the land there is their entire life. Most of the time they get by but occasionally too many things go wrong at once and the people there struggle to cope. Many years people living there need urgent help but it is by no means the same group of people each year. However the whole countries are amongst the poorest in the world and have little reserve to help each other.

Tahoua is a town with about 140,000 inhabitants. Like the entire country of Niger, this town also struggles with grave economic and social problems aggravated by extreme climatic conditions. Nearly half of the population is aged below 15 years, the illiteracy rate amounts to an astronomical percentage of 82.4, average life expectancy is 42 years; HIV/AIDS claims more and more victims particularly among the middle (working age) generation.

The 2005-06 Niger food crisis was a severe food security crisis in the regions of northern Maradi, Tahoua, Tillabéri, and Zinder of Niger. It was caused by an early end to the 2004 rains, desert locust damage to pasture lands, high food prices,  chronic poverty and loss of working age adults to HIV/AIDS. It was estimated that 800,000 faced extreme food insecurity and were in desperate need of aid.

In late August, as the crisis started SOS Children responded by establishing an Emergency Relief Programme in the village of Muntchéré, in the region of Tahoua, for children in danger of dying from acute starvation.  The food programme fed about 9,000 children, many of whom were orphans. Children were provided with nutrient-rich food packages, given psycho-social support and cared for in our Villages when necessary.

Grain sacks were also distributed in Mali. Due to the long lasting drought and locust invasion, Mali faced poor crop yields and thus suffered of famine. The SOS Children’s Village Socoura reacted immediately with an Emergency Relief Project and distributed basic foodstuff and other relief goods. The programme lasted from spring to summer 2005.

Up to a third of Niger's population continues to suffer from food scarcity, and every day children die from under nourishment. SOS Children has been well established in the country since 1993 and is well placed to spend money wisely where it will help most. At present there are two SOS Children's Villages in Niger, two SOS Nurseries, two SOS Schools and two SOS Social Centres (one with integrated medical centre).



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