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One million facing food shortage in Niger

11 November 2013, 09:10

Niamey - About one million people in Niger, one of the world's poorest nations, are facing severe food shortages due to poor harvests after a drought and flooding, Prime Minister Brigi Rafini said.

"This season was not what we expected," Rafini said during a parliamentary debate on Saturday according to a television report on Sunday. "We can write off this year."

Rafini said that according to a first evaluation "about one million are at risk and must be assisted".

Figures about the actual needs would be published shortly, so people could be helped until the end of December at a cost of about €84m which would be financed with the support of international partners.

Niger, 80% of which is covered by the Sahara desert, was hit by severe floods earlier this year, that killed at least 32 people and left 230 000 homeless, also wiping out crops.

Recurrent food shortages in the country are one reason for a high rate of malnutrition among children. A lack of hygiene and drinking water as well as epidemics also contribute.

Since 2010, 300 000 malnourished children have been given medical attention every year but up to 6 000 still die, according to government figures published by the United Nations Children's Fund last month.



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