Niger announced Thursday that it has launched free distributions of thousands of tonnes of food to farmers hit by poor harvests across the country.
A total of 270.6 billion CFA francs (more than 412 million euros) will be injected into a "support plan" for "vulnerable" populations, Hadari Zeinabou Garba, a member of the Prime Minister's office, told the press.
The first distributions have started in the region of Tillabéri (west), close to Mali and Burkina Faso. In total, the distributions of 42,900 tons of cereals, which will be spread out until August, will benefit 1.5 million people in the eight regions of the country.
The months of July and August correspond to the so-called "lean season" period which separates the end of the consumption of the harvest of the previous year from the following harvest and during this period the granaries are generally empty, according to the authorities.
The UN estimates that 17% of Niger's population will need humanitarian assistance this year. Acute malnutrition affected more than 12% of children in 2022, a figure above the emergency threshold of 10% set by the World Health Organization (WHO).
A very dry country of more than 22 million inhabitants, Niger is often hit by serious food crises mainly due to drought.
But since 2021, many peasants have been unable to cultivate their fields because of bloody attacks by jihadists linked to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS) group, causing drastic drops in cereal production.
NGOs explain the growing increase in people requiring emergency assistance by "population movements" in the regions of Tillabéri and Tahoua (west), Diffa, in the southeast near Nigeria where Boko Haram and the Islamic State in the West African province (ISWAP), then Maradi (center-south) affected by the actions of armed bandits from Nigeria.
As of June 30, Niger had 358,185 internally displaced people who fled the violence, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Niamey.