The insecurity in Mali has World Vision aid workers concerned about the effects of the conflict on both the refugees and families currently living along the border in “host communities.” In preliminary surveys, World Vision staff have already seen some villages in Niger swell from a population of 1,000 to 7,000 or more.
“This new wave of refugees is straining communities which are already very fragile in this worsening food crisis,” said Esperance Klugan, national director of World Vision in Niger. “Right now, many villagers are unable to afford even one meal a day for their families.”
In Niger, the government estimates at least nine million people remain vulnerable to the hunger crisis; approximately 3.7 million people are in need of immediate assistance. Many households have little to no remaining supplies to feed their families and are using harsh coping mechanisms like spacing out their meals, selling the few livestock they have left, and sending family members into other cities or even outside the country to find work.
World Vision is sending a team of emergency responders to the border this week and will begin scaling up its response in the coming days to help prevent this latest migration from expanding into a wider humanitarian crisis.
World Vision's emergency response will include:
- Providing more than 240,000 sachets of PUR (water purification tablets)
- Contributing vital medicines
- Leading efforts to improve hygiene and provide access to clean water by drilling three boreholes and constructing latrines for 50 households
Meanwhile, World Vision is working in multiple countries to address the food shortages. Since October 2011, the organisation has:
- Prioritised and expanded life-saving nutrition programmes for children
- Supported free food distribution to low-income families
- Vaccinated livestock to protect them from disease and preserve families’ livelihood
- Distributed seeds to farmers
- Drilled additional wells to increase access to clean, safe water