10 May 2005, Rome - Damage from the 2004 drought and locust infestations is aggravating the food situation in parts of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and northern Senegal, FAO said in a statement today.
Millet prices continue to climb, while livestock prices have been falling, the agency said. The conditions for livestock production are deteriorating due to scarce pasture and water resources. The movement of animals in search of water and feed has already led to local conflicts.
Severe child malnutrition
Access to main food staples is increasingly difficult for vulnerable households and pastoralists. Severe child malnutrition is increasing rapidly. Reports from Mali's Kidal region show that one-third of children under the age of three are suffering from severe malnutrition
In Niger, an estimated 2.5 million people in around 3 000 villages risk food shortages. The government has been selling cereals at subsidized prices in affected communities, but with limited impact on the overall food situation. UNICEF has appealed for funds to feed some 750 000 children in Niger, 150 000 of whom are showing signs of severe malnutrition.
In Burkina Faso, the government has distributed cereals in affected communities. The Government of Mali has subsidized the selling of 15 000 tonnes of animal feed, while in Chad subsidized sales of cereals are expected to begin soon. In Mauritania, where widespread and increasing malnutrition is reported, the World Food Programme's food-for-work programme has started. Food distribution funded by the European Union is also expected to start soon.
Additional food aid is urgently needed for the upcoming lean season, as well as subsidised livestock feed, safe passage areas for herds and animal health programmes. Many farming families will also need seeds and other farming inputs for the next growing season, due to start in late May/June.
FAO is appealing for $11.4 million to provide agricultural inputs and assist pastoralists in the affected countries. So far, Italy, Norway and the United States have provided $2.1 million for the delivery of seeds, animal feed and veterinary services. More funds are urgently needed to respond to the worsening situation.
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