"Food Crisis No Longer Taboo in Niger"
Volume 375, Issue 9721 (pages 1151-1152) – Thomas C. Tsai reports that a military coup has caused political instability in poverty-stricken Niger, but there are signs that the new interim government could help the country out of its food crisis.
According to data from USAID's Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS), around 2.7 million Nigeriens are likely to be highly to extremely food insecure. An additional 5.1 million people are at risk for moderate food insecurity. All together, about three-fifths of the population will be faced with food shortages. With poverty rates at around 60% and most of the population dependent on subsistence agriculture, the food shortage could have a substantial effect on the livelihood of many Nigeriens.
Complicating the food insecurity in Niger is political instability; on Feb 18, 2010, a military junta led by Salou Djibo overthrew the Tandja regime in Niger. “The new government has provided a different perspective on addressing the nutritional crisis by calling for international aid and publishing data on the scope of the problem resulting in a much more open approach,” states Grais [director of Epidemiology at Epicentre, which has a permanent presence in Niger]. However, the dismissal of government officials and lack of political stability poses a challenge to the production of accurate assessments on the true burden of food shortage and childhood malnutrition.