Niger: Support for herders in Agadez and Tillabery areas
GENEVA, Switzerland, May 16, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- To support communities made vulnerable by the combined effects of climate factors and armed conflicts in the region (in Mali and Libya), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has just launched an operation to purchase approximately 8,000 head of cattle from herdsmen in the Tillabery and Agadez areas (in the west and north of the country, respectively).
"Thousands of people fleeing the effects of the conflict in northern Mali have found refuge in the Tillabery area. Some of them arrived with their herds, which increased the pressure on resources that were already insufficient to meet the needs of indigenous herdsmen," said Jean-Nicolas Marti, head of the ICRC regional delegation for Niger and Mali. "Further north, herders are feeling the effects of the instability prevailing in Libya and hindering economic activity. They are weakened by their isolation and by the difficulty of reaching markets."
The traditional paths of the seasonal migration of livestock have now generally become impassable throughout the area, harming cross-border trade. While above-average rainfall last year resulted in improved availability of grazing and water resources for cattle, there remain some pockets of drought.
"The purchase of these animals will take some pressure off grazing lands and give herders money they can use to buy grain and feed their families," said Mr Marti. "The animals purchased will be distributed, either alive or slaughtered, to the neediest."
In the Tillabery area, some 2,000 animals will be purchased in Abala, Ayorou, Bankilaré and Ouallam. In the Agadez area, around 6,000 will be purshased in Tchirozérine, Dabaga, Aderbissanat, Tabélot, Timia, Gougaram, Dannat and Iférouane.
In addition, under a major programme of support for herdsmen provided jointly by Niger's livestock ministry and the ICRC, around three million animals have been vaccinated and treated against disease in the two areas since the beginning of the year. Feed banks for livestock have been set up to enable herders to obtain fodder at affordable prices, and veterinary assistants have been trained in order to ease access to animal health services. Over 300 herdsmen in the Agadez area who are also farmers will receive assistance enabling them to produce the fodder they need.