Issued by CEMO Center - Paris
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Niger teetering on edge of famine

Saturday 09/September/2023 - 09:03 PM
The Reference
Ahmed Adel

West Africans writhe under rising food prices because of the coup that took place in Niger.

The prices of beef and cereals have increased by more than 40%.

Nigeriens also suffer a significant shortage of foodstuffs. This has prompted the World Food Programme (WFP) to warn against the risk of famine, to which over 10 million people are prone in the West African country which is mired in poverty.

Many West African markets, especially in Nigeria, Benin and Burkina Faso, depend on meat and dry food imports from Niger.

Niger has been living in isolation from its regional surroundings for more than a month now due to the measures taken by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), in protest against the coup that overthrew elected president Mohamed Bazoum.

Niger is also heavily dependent on neighbouring countries, specifically Nigeria, in importing food commodities and supplies.

However, ECOWAS-imposed sanctions have disrupted thousands of trucks at the border between the two countries.

This has led to a severe increase in food prices. The increase amounts to between 20 and 30%.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, this crisis is expected to cause deterioration in the humanitarian situation of approximately 7.3 million people.

The office stressed the need for applying humanitarian exemptions from sanctions to avoid the rapid deterioration of food security and nutritional situation in Niger.

Humanitarian response plan

Niger's humanitarian response plan seeks to raise $584 million to meet humanitarian needs.

Nevertheless, the plan has so far received only 39% of the total amount requested.

A regional spokesman for the WFP said about 6,000 tonnes of goods belonging to the programme are stuck outside the borders, including cereals, cooking oils and food for malnourished children.

Niger, on the edge of the Sahara Desert, has seen a series of coups and long periods of political instability in the decades since independence from France in 1960.

Serious concerns

For his part, Mohamed Ezzeddine, an African affairs specialist, said Niger's military coup and the closure of land and air ports in the country raised serious concerns about the deterioration of the security and humanitarian situation in the country and its negative repercussions on the regional environment as a whole.

"These developments also raised concerns over the return of the wave of coups to Africa, especially after a series of economic and political reforms," he told The Reference.

He added that with the succession of economic crises due to the war in Ukraine and the imposed search for new resources for energy, and others that support food security, all this would lead to a great risk of famine.