Almost 300,000 people have benefited from its assistance since the beginning of May.
\”The living conditions of many families have drastically deteriorated in recent months,\” said Jürg Eglin, head of the ICRC\’s regional delegation in Niamey, Niger, which covers both Niger and Mali.
\”Finding water and providing food for the family has become a daily struggle, pushing people to their limits.\” Although the rainy season has brought some relief to people in the Sahel region, they continue to live in extremely difficult conditions.
Since last year, the lives of hundreds of thousands of people have been disrupted by successive droughts and floods which have killed cattle and destroyed crops and harvests.
The crisis is compounded by inter-communal clashes between farmers and herders competing for land and scarce water sources, and by armed banditry.
In response to the emergency, the ICRC purchased 36,000 head of cattle while they were still in fair condition from breeders in the Agadez region of northern Niger and in the Gao and Tombouctou regions of northern Mali.
The animals (mainly goats and sheep) were then slaughtered and their meat was distributed to needy families.
The operation boosted the purchasing power of the stockbreeders while at the same time stabilizing the price of livestock on the market by reducing supply.
Some 60,000 stronger animals with a chance of surviving the drought were given veterinary care and feed.
In the same regions, the ICRC has been providing around 200,000 people with food rations since April to bridge the gap until the next harvest in October.
In addition, it has given sorghum, millet and rice seed to 65,000 farmers.
The distributions have been carried out in cooperation with the Red Cross Societies of both Niger and Mali.
A final round of distributions is currently under way in Agadez.
The ICRC continues to assess the situation and stands ready to provide further assistance to address remaining needs.
The ICRC is one of the few humanitarian organizations operating in northern Niger and Mali.
The organization works closely with the Red Cross Societies of the two countries and coordinates its activities with the other humanitarian organizations and the authorities responding to the crisis.