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Commission releases €14.9 million for food security to the Republic of Niger

European Commission - IP/10/1044   10/08/2010

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IP/10/1044

Brussels, 10 August 2010

Commission releases €14.9 million for food security to the Republic of Niger

Given the worsening food crisis in the Sahel, the Commission today agreed to disburse €14.9 million for food security in Niger, the worst affected country in the area. This follows the Commission's recent proposal to resume aid to Niger for €458 million between 2008 and 2013. The aid provided is in addition to the humanitarian assistance of € 25 million, which has been allocated so far in 2010 via the Commission's Department for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO). Today's funds will be complementary to the Commission's latest efforts to mobilise extra € 30 million for the Sahel region, mainly for Niger, in order to avoid another food crisis.

European Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs stated: "This food assistance comes at a critical time for Niger and could free up to 700,000 families from the risk of hunger and famine. But a longer term solution is needed. Last month I proposed the resumption of the European Commission's development aid programme in Niger. It is essential that this lead is followed by other donors as part of a coordinated, long term strategy and that the government of Niger is fully on board in the fight against poverty ".

The unfolding food crisis in the Sahel puts more than 7 million people in Niger at risk, of which 3 million are in need of urgent food assistance. The additional assistance will help cover important needs, including the purchase of sufficient volumes of staple food to cover the critical period until the next harvest.

Ensuring coverage of basic needs is part of a consistent EU Development approach based on partnership with developing countries in the fight against poverty. There are strong safeguards and guarantees to ensure that this aid reaches its right beneficiaries, with built-in controls at all the key stages of the procedure.

Recently, the Commission has proposed to resume aid to Niger for €458 million between 2008 and 2013. It is, however, essential that the government of Niger engages in improving governance and completing the democratic transition process. Fulfilment of the conditions in the roadmap agreed last month between the EU and Niger remains of critical importance. The Commission will continue to monitor the situation closely, supporting the transition to democracy, whilst at the same time helping vulnerable populations in critical situations such as this.

Background

Under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) the Republic of Niger should benefit from a total of €458 million between 2008 and 2013. On 26 July, the Commission proposed resumption of this cooperation. Full disbursement of these funds will only be possible after the Council has formally adopted the decision. Today's disbursement concerns exclusively food aid, in the context of an exceptional emergency situation, and comes on top of previous increases of humanitarian funding for Niger by the Commission and EU Member States.

This process for transition to democracy envisages a referendum on a new constitution as well as local and presidential elections. Under the roadmap these should be finalised by March 2011.

The main priority areas for longer-term cooperation under the 10th EDF for Niger are support to good governance, development of transport infrastructure, improvement of the food security situation and other operations which directly benefit the population (for example access to safe water and sanitation).

In 2010 so far, the European Commission has provided € 54 M of humanitarian aid to areas in the Sahel affected by the crisis, of which € 25 M for the Republic of Niger. Considering increasing needs in the Sahel, Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Georgieva has recently requested the mobilisation of a further €30 million to fund humanitarian operations in the Sahel, mainly in Niger. The number of children affected by acute undernutrition has in fact continued to grow and food assistance operations need to be extended for the worst affected populations.

For further information

More information on projects realised in the Republic of Niger with the EC support: health care, transport and social protection and employment.

More information on the food situation in the Republic of Niger read the MEMO/10/340 and IP/10/1004 as well as IP/10/1021.

See also websites of Commissioner Piebalgs :

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/piebalgs/index_en.htm

and Commissioner Georgieva :

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/georgieva/index_en.htm


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