August 1, 2005
One Great Hour of Sharing rushes grant to fund emergency food aid for people caught in "silent famine" in Niger.
Lack of significant rainfall in the 2004 planting season coupled with a massive infestation of desert locusts has created conditions of acute malnutrition for approximately 3.5 million persons in vast parts of Niger's Sahel region (southern tier of the Sahara desert). Years of economic decline and struggle have also weakened the capacity of people able to react against these problems.
Since June, Mediciens Sans Frontiers reports admitting about 1,000 children a week at each of its five emergency feeding centers -- all weak and emaciated from lack of food, many on the verge of starvation.
Food shortages in the Sahel are expected to become increasingly more critical until the new harvest begins in late September. Grain prices reportedly double their usual level and livestock prices at all-time lows may have catastrophic consequences for the struggling nation over the next few months.
Church World Service has issued a $100,000 emergency appeal to its member communions in support of a larger appeal from Action by Churches Together. One Great Hour of Sharing rushed an initial $10,000 grant to CWS/ACT to help fund this urgent appeal.
Through September 2005 (onset of harvest), One Great Hour of Sharing funds will support partners and Action By Churches Together (ACT) members Swiss Interchurch Aid (HEKS) and Lutheran World Relief (LWR). Both groups will be working in the areas of food security, health and nutrition, and livestock assistance in affected areas of the Sahel.
HEKS will coordinate with local non-governmental organizations in Niger * TANAKRA, Agence de Development Nourriterre (ADN), AFFAAC (Tahoua), and AREN * providing assistance to approximately 50,000 people in 55 villages.
HEKS activities will include:
- Purchase and delivery of 600 tons of millet, 10 percent for seed
- Distribution of 50 tons of milk powder (mainly for children)
- Purchase and delivery of 475 tons of animal fodder
- Provision of 4,520 salt blocks (mainly for livestock)
- Construction of 13 additional cereal banks (6 already exist)
- Training and equipment to manage and operate cereal banks
LWR is in the process of finalizing its project descriptions in conjunction with its local implementing partners.
HOW CAN I HELP?
1. Pray for the people of Niger and relief workers seeking to address this crisis.
2. To assist those affected, make gifts payable to your UCC Congregation, marked for "International Disaster Fund – Niger" in the memo portion, to be sent to your Conference Office with a note asking that the gift be forwarded to Wider Church Ministries; 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115.
3. Make gifts payable to Wider Church Ministries, marked in the memo portion "International Disaster Fund - Niger" and send to Wider Church Ministries; 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115.
4. Make a secure on-line donation now by clicking on the International Disaster Fund button on this page. Please write "Niger" in the Comments section. Thank you.