PAU, France - August 11 -Niger is faced with a terrible food shortage. Affected a few months ago by drought, then by an invasion of pilgrim crickets, the harvests have not been sufficient in 2004. The storage houses are empty and even if the next harvest is fruitful, it will not be ready before October.
Within the next few weeks, the famine is threatening to take many more lives of millions of children. TSF's mission obejctives are to: - Make available a Telecom Centre and technical assistance for all NGOs thanks to Inmarsat RBGan terminals and Mini Ms - Install priority phone lines in order to facilitate food distributions and help bringing medical care to affected children - Train local NGOs on using Internet and communication technologies to improve aid coordination - Run humanitarian phoning operations in isolated villages of Maradi region in order for affected population to receive personnalised help
On field since the 30th of July, TSF have installed a Telecom Centre at Dakaro (Maradi) at the disposal of all NGO’s in the 17 000 km˛ region. The charitable organisations already established in the area are: Oxfam, MSF, Peace Corps,Care International , Action against Hunger, Belgian VSF and local NGOs like CAPONG. In Dakaro, there is no GSM coverage and before TSF arrived, NGOs had to do a 5 hour round trip in a 4x4 between Dakoro and Maradi, the only place in the region to access the internet.
At the same time, TSF has installed satellite telephone lines in essential humanitarian aid coordination areas. They allow doctors to indicate the malnutrition cases and alleviate the food distribution. In certain isolated villages in Maradi, where a huge number of children are suffering malnutrition, TSF offered several village chiefs priority calls in order to request personalised assistance for their village. TSF is assessing the telephone needs of the population for a future extension of the operation to reach a greater number of people.
In the next few days, more NGO’s are expected in the region, one of the most affected by the crisis.
According to the United Nations, of the 12 million inhabitants of Niger, 3, 6 million (of whom 800, 000 are children under 5) are vulnerable and risk of dying of hunger in the following weeks. In Niger, 1 child in 4 dies before 5 years old.