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Over 7 million people in Niger facing food insecurity owing to bad harvest, warns UN

23 February 2010 – More than 7 million people in Niger, which last week saw its Government overthrown in a coup d’état, are facing food insecurity, the United Nations health agency warned today.

Some 2.7 million, or one in five households, were severely food insecure and another 5.1 million were moderately food insecure, Paul Garwood of the World Health Organization (WHO) told reporters in Geneva.

“More than half the population [of 7.7 million] was estimated to have less than two months worth of food stocks to survive until the next harvest in October,” he stated.

Mr. Garwood added that in the first weeks of 2010, nearly 29,000 cases of global acute malnutrition had been reported. In response, Niger’s authorities had recently launched a support plan to improve food safety and prevent malnutrition and to treat cases of malnutrition of children aged under five.

Acute malnutrition affected more than 12 per cent of children in this age group in Niger, he noted, adding that WHO is seeking around $659,000 for emergency nutrition intervention for children under five.

In addition, WHO is supporting the training of seven trainers in Agadez on the new protocols on the treatment of people with acute malnutrition, and these trainers will in turn train almost 80 people.

Meanwhile, the UN is working closely with its partners, including the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU), to help resolve the crisis in the country which began when renegade soldiers stormed the presidential palace last Thursday with the stated aim of returning Niger to democracy.

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