Mercy Corps is sending two veteran aid workers to respond to the current food crisis in Niger. Team leader Christy Collins, a Seattle resident, departed from Portland today.
The United Nations estimates that 3.5 million Nigeriens are facing a severe food crisis as a result of drought, debt and several years of poor harvests. Mercy Corps’ team will assess the situation, identify a local partner, start disbursing emergency aid to populations in need, and develop a longer-term plan for the response.
“August is the critical month in Niger,” said Collins, who has spent twelve years in Niger and speaks French as well as one of the local languages. “If the rains come, the September harvest may be strong enough to mitigate the current food crisis. If not, or if Nigeriens have depleted their seed reserves, we could have a full-on famine on our hands this fall.”
Collins will be accompanied by Susan Romanski, Mercy Corps’ deputy director of emergency operations.
Mercy Corps has a long history of responding to emergencies, including the refugee crisis in Kosovo, the devastating effects of Hurricane Mitch in Central American, the massive earthquake in Bam, Iran and the unprecedented destruction of the Indian Ocean tsunami last December.
Mercy Corps is already operating in six African nations: Eritrea, Ethiopia, Liberia, Somalia, Sudan and Zimbabwe.