UN chiefs call for response to the Niger food crisis

17 Feb 2012

Niamey/New York - On the last day of their joint visit to Niger, UN Development and Humanitarian Chiefs Helen Clark and Valerie Amos travelled to the south-western Tillabery region, one of Niger’s most vulnerable areas in terms of food insecurity, to call for a response to the crisis that will build community resilience for the future.

Helen Clark and Valerie Amos visited a UN-supported agricultural project in Molia where villagers are learning to grow vegetables in a sustainable way while improving their own nutrition and earning an income. “This project shows how a tiny initial investment can make a major difference,” said Valerie Amos. “Just a few kilometres from here, there is a village which has not had this investment, where people are leaving their homes and have taken their children out of school so that they can look for food.”

The joint two-day visit aimed to focus international attention on the seriousness of the food security and nutrition situation in the Sahel. While the Government of Niger has shown strong leadership and has adopted a response strategy, Helen Clark and Valerie Amos expressed the hope that their joint visit would give Niger the visibility it needs to implement the plan and attract funding.

“We are dealing with a crisis where an estimated 10 million people are struggling to get food across eight countries. It has been wonderful to come to Niger and see the Government owning the problem, taking leadership, and developing clear strategies,” said Helen Clark. “We are all here to support that and to mobilize the funding to make it possible to implement the strategies.”

There is the potential for an even deeper food and nutrition crisis in Niger but the United Nations and its partners are working with the Government to prevent such a deterioration, explained the UN Development and Humanitarian Chiefs. They emphasized the need for a humanitarian response that will lead to greater resilience.

During their visit, Helen Clark and Valerie Amos met with President Mahamadou Issoufou, Prime Minister Brigi Rafini and key government Ministers working on food security. They discussed the looming crisis with NGOs working on humanitarian and development issues in Niger, with donor representatives and with the UN Country Team.

Contact Information

OCHA: Niger: Franck Kuwonu +227 96 00 94 96, kuwonu@un.org; Rémi Dourlot, + 221 77 569 9653, dourlot@un.org;

Geneva: Elisabeth Byrs, +4179 473 5126, byrs@un.org; New York: Amanda Pitt, +1 917 442 1810, pitta@un.org

UNDP: Niger/New York:Christina LoNigro, +1 917607 9446, + 227 91 20 8333, Christina.lonigro@undp.org;

Niger: Aly Adamou, +227 91 20 8313, aly.adamou@undp.org