The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in Niger welcomed a contribution of €3 million from the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) to help address vulnerable communities’ urgent food and education needs, while sustaining humanitarian partners with safe and efficient access to all regions of Niger through the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS). “We stand in solidarity with those in dire need of humanitarian assistance in Niger. This contribution to WFP underscores our commitment to supporting all initiatives aiming to provide vital lifelines to vulnerable communities affected by crises. It’s only through joint efforts that we can uplift vulnerable communities in a path towards enhanced resilience and learning for every child, every family in need,” said Montserrat Solés Franch, General Coordinator of AECID in Niger.
Spain’s contribution will provide vital food assistance in the form of cash transfers to around 65,000 beneficiaries in crisis-affected areas, ensuring access to nutritious food for those most in need.
The funding will also enable the provision of emergency school feeding for approximately 20,000 school-age girls and boys in regrouping centres in the Tillabéri region. School meals, particularly in emergency settings, may often be the only meal a child eats per day. Through this contribution, children are not only able to meet their food and nutrition needs but can attend school daily without the pangs of hunger distracting them from learning.
“Life is getting extremely tough for vulnerable communities across Niger. As food prices rise, families already on the brink struggle to have sufficient food to go around. This may lead to parents making very difficult choices – like skipping meals, selling assets or sending children to work rather than school – all of which have long-lasting, destructive consequences,” said Jean-Noel Gentile, WFP Country Director in Niger. “With this timely contribution from AECID, we provide more than just nutritious food – we ensure a lifeline for many Nigeriens who no longer have to worry about where their next meal comes from.”
AECID’s support will also strengthen UNHAS’s capacity to ensure that humanitarian and development partners in Niger can respond quickly and in a timely manner to deliver vital assistance to communities and critically supports WFP in facing funding shortfalls that have affected UNHAS operations in 2023. The increasing costs of maintaining UNHAS services and a shortfall in contributions are putting at risk the continuity of this vital service beyond January 2024. This situation poses a critical challenge to the ability of humanitarian organizations to move effectively in the country.
In Niger, the current political crisis, economic sanctions and resulting border closures are exacerbating hunger and humanitarian needs, which have already reached unprecedented levels in recent years. 3.3 million people were severely food insecure at the height of the lean season 2023 between June and August 2023. Despite a rise in food availability following the post-lean season harvests, the number of those affected remains alarmingly high. The November 2023 Cadre Harmonisé indicates that 2.3 million people face acute food insecurity, despite the increase in food availability after the harvest season.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of World Food Programme (WFP).