Oxfam, Save the Children to donors: 'Act now' in Niger

A man works in a field under the World Food Programme's food-and-cash for work initiative in Niger. Oxfam and Save the Children urge donors to help ease the worsening food crisis in the Sahel, particularly in Niger. Photo by: Phil Behan / WFP

How many times does the world have to see a crisis before it acts?

Oxfam and Save the Children are again calling on donors to help ease the worsening food crisis in the Sahel, particularly in Niger. Oxfam is appealing for $20 million in emergency relief while Save the Children is urging donors to fund its 2012 appeal for Niger amounting to 30 million pounds ($48 million). The appeal is only 5 percent funded.

The two nongovernmental organizations warn the food crisis in Niger could escalate into a full-scale humanitarian emergency if donors do not deliver their pledges on time. Six million people are in need of immediate assistance in Niger and about 1.9 million are severely at risk. By April, Oxfam fears this number could rise to 3.5 million, or about one-fifth Niger’s total population. 

The crisis is driven by a combination of the usual suspects — drought, crop failure, high food prices and conflict. In parts of Niger, families are already cutting on meals and selling possessions. Children’s education is also put on the line as parents take their children out of school to save money, says Justin Forsyth, Save the Children’s CEO, who visited Niger this March.

A number of donors have already announced funding to fend off the crisis in the Sahel, including Canada ($41.1 million), Ireland ($6.6 million) and the European Union (more than $200 million).

Samuel Braimah, Oxfam country director for Niger, said the worsening crisis can be prevented and lives can be saved if “we act now.”

“It’s that simple,” Braimah said.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.