The Irish Red Cross today launched an emergency appeal in a bid to alleviate the looming food crisis in Niger. The appeal will support the Red Cross’s urgent screening for malnutrition in children under five, together with the rapid delivery of therapeutic food that will stop hundreds of children from going hungry.
The Irish Red Cross has been present in Niger for seven years, during which time 30 villages, approximately 20,000 people, have been assisted by the charity’s activities.
Irish Red Cross activities in Niger help communities strengthen their ability to grow and store crops and have introduced diversification into the diets of the villagers so that no one crop is relied on. However, poor harvests in 2011 have led to food shortages affecting up to 3 million people across the West African country.
Colm Byrne, Head of the Irish Red Cross International Department said “In 2011, Niger experienced flooding and drought creating a substantial loss of crops. This was exacerbated by infestations of locusts which ruined much of the remaining harvest. This has created a food shortage throughout the country, meaning that for many families the lean season will come earlier and last longer this year”.
“This is a situation that is developing rapidly. Many children are already malnourished but with food assistance they will be able to regain their strength and health.” said Byrne “This is a disaster that can be avoided.”
The Irish Red Cross are also helping local communities to tackle the causes of malnutrition and hunger. Health education, improving water and sanitation and creating paid work will help families give their children a better start in life. Distributing seeds, improved irrigation techniques, soil management and tree planting will help communities plant more robust and sustainable crops.
To donate to the Irish Red Cross ‘Niger Hunger Appeal’ please visit www.redcross.ie or call 1850 50 70 70.