Please help us feed a hungry friend
ou will no doubt have heard the Sahel region of Africa has yet again been hit with erratic and inadequate rainfall. This has led to failed harvests and poorly developed grazing. An estimated 13 million people are affected with over 6 million of these in Niger alone. Here, food shortages are estimated to be in the order of 800,000 metric tonnes. As food runs out prices soar beyond the reach of the chronically poor. In the regions in which SCF works, those of Agadez, Zinder and Diffa, several thousand children are already suffering from severe malnutrition and deaths are being recorded on a daily basis. Under the best case scenario, the next harvest is at least 5 months away.
Lots of statistics, I know, but the reality is those statistics have names; names like Aysha, Mamadou and Bintou. Statistics that are hungry, statistics that hurt, statistics that cry. Statistics that struggle for breath and statistics that will die for want of food unless something is done about it.
And while the Niger government and the aid community are doing their best to head off an even worse disaster there remains much to be done. We can help. With an initial donation of $5,000 from St Louis Zoo, SCF has matched this with a further $5,000. Our initial target now is to double this and send the funds to Niger to purchase food for severely malnourished children. SCF will partner with Save The Children to ensure that money gets used where it is most needed and most effective.
According to Justin Forsyth, Save The Children’s chief executive, who has just returned from Niger, where some food is still available but not affordable. “...we should urgently distribute small amounts of cash to the poorest families so that they can eat”. He went on to say “We need to pay particular attention to helping the under-fives, whose bodies succumb faster to lack of food. It costs less to stop children becoming malnourished than it does to bring them back from the brink of death—£5 ($8) supplements a child’s diet for a month, compared with £80 ($108) to treat a case of severe malnutrition.”
SCF is doing its very best to implement an effective and responsible conservation program in Niger. And while we rightly focus our attention on endangered species, we never fail to recognize the importance of building meaningful and honest relationships with the people and communities whose support will ultimately decide the outcome of all our efforts. Beyond providing emergency food relief, we have a longer term program of support that includes health care and vaccinations against diseases like tetanus and measles, education and school canteens for the children of nomad families, and the provision of environmentally-sound and reliable sources of water.
You wouldn’t walk away from a hungry friend, would you?
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