UN: Malnutrition high in Niger
Rome - Acute malnutrition rates in Niger remain high despite a good harvest, and more international aid is needed to avoid another food crisis, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said on Thursday.
A joint report by FAO and the World Food Programme (WFP) "urges the international community to continue to provide assistance to Niger so that welcome gains in food production and security are not reversed".
The report said the government of Niger had launched "a massive humanitarian intervention last year which averted the worst effects of a food and nutrition crisis that put more than seven million people in jeopardy".
The WFP had provided emergency food assistance to more than five million people, particularly vulnerable groups such as children under five, and pregnant or lactating women.
For its part, the FAO said it had helped over 94 percent of affected villages by providing 13 000 tons of animal feed and handing out over 3 400 tons of seeds.
"However, the acute malnutrition rate was still above 15% in most parts of the country," the report said, adding that "lack of access to health care facilities and extreme poverty pose further threats."
The UN bodies insisted that both food and non-food assistance is still necessary to allow the affected populations to have independent access to food.