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Tonight

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Live8 to help famine in Niger?
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BBC American version has run 2 special reports about the current famine in Niger, caused by drought and locusts. They need cereals, provided by the UN. It looks like Medecins sans Frontiers is doing the job of treating the malnourished so far. How is this crisis being helped by the Live8 events? in that poverty is caused by poor harvests. Is anyone administering the Live8 monies towards purchasing cereals? I don't really know much about this and am just throwing the question out there to you on the forum...although unfortunately the London disturbances are of course on everyone's minds at the moment.



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House on Fire

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Can't answer your questions motema2004.  I've only seen reports about Niger just this last week - I wasn't aware of the problem before that at all.  They say the famine has been caused by two failed harvests and a plague of locusts.  Niger is the second poorest country in Africa (in the world?) apparently.  But what strikes me about the reports from Niger are the wonderful clothes the women wear!!  They are so colourful, varied and stylish!  Where do they get the cloth from?  How can the country be so poor when it could export this fashion to the world?  Reminds me of those pictures of Congolese women on the covers of CDs of 1970's music.

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Fair Trade issue... cotton subsidies in the US etc. I'm sure the same could be said about a lot of the beautiful fabrics in many African countries. They just don't get a look in world trade. And that is part of what Live8 is all about.

Live8 was about helping countries such as this in the long term, LiveAid was short term immediate crisis response. The Band Aid Trust still exists and continues to do such work along with other charities such as Oxfam, Save the Children etc.

The London bombings certainly remind us what a stilted world we live in don't they?

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Tonight

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Thanks, will investigate more. As for fabrics, I didn't realize it was a fair trade issue. I thought it was lack of exposure. If more people saw the fabrics being worn, not just by Africans but by others as well...like Sir Bob, for example! hah hah! And Africans should stop wearing Nike and Hilfiger, or get those but put something African on it over the stupid logo! Meanwhile, I hope relief comes soon for Niger.



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African is simply unable to trade with the rest of the world due to the barriers put up by super powers i.e. Europe and the US, in trade subsidies. Such a shame, we are missing out on so much. Hopefully Live8 has began to resolve this.



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this is the latest news update from the Reuters news agency.


DAKAR, 22 July (IRIN) - International aid groups are rushing to pour food aid and medical teams into Niger where over two million people are living on little more than wild roots and leaves, now that money has finally started flowing in from international donors.

The United Nations, the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) and the Niger government have been warning of dangerous food shortages in the landlocked West African country for several months.

Arab nations, motivated by a sense of Islamic brotherhood, have sent in a few planeloads of food aid. Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates have all flown in supplies during recent weeks.

France, the former colonial power in Niger, only sent its first planeload of food supplies to the country on Thursday.

But western donors are only now beginning to respond in a big way. Jan Egeland, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, said on Friday that the international community had put more money into the Niger relief effort over the past 10 days than it had during the previous 10 months.

Egeland has repeatedly criticised the international community's slow response to the emerging famine in Niger, which is the second poorest country in the world, according to the UN Human Development Index.

The government of Niger says up to 3.6 million people will suffer food shortages this year after their fields of grain and grazing lands were devastated by drought and a massive invasion of locusts in 2004.

Egeland calls for emergency reserve fund
Speaking to reporters in Geneva, Egeland called for an emergency reserve fund which the United Nations could use to jump start a response to developing crises, while it seeks money from donors.

To date, donors have given US $10 million towards the United Nations' overall appeal for Niger of US $30.7 million, Egeland said.

The appeal figure, which was increased by US $12 million last week, would probably be raised again very soon, he added.

UN officials and aid workers expressed relief that the main international donors, including the United States, the European Union, Britain and Germany, were finally starting to give aid to Niger.

But they warned that for many people in the country's remote and sand swept villages, it was already too late.

"People didn't listen," Natasha Kofoworola Quist of Oxfam-Great Britain told IRIN from Niger's capital, Niamey, on Thursday. "Thank goodness that's changing, but it's clear children are still going to die."

Save the Children UK, Oxfam-GB, the Irish charity Concern Worldwide and a host of other international aid groups announced this week that they were sending special emergency teams into the landlocked West African country.

Media attention sparks donor interest

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has so far received US $5 million toward its overall appeal for US $16 million, Gian Carlo Cirri, the WFP representative in Niger, told IRIN on Friday. But the bulk of that has come in the last several weeks.

"Media attention has triggered donors' interest," he said. "The funding situation is getting better but we do not yet have what we need."

Aid workers in Niger said rising humanitarian concern, particularly over soaring levels of child malnutrition, had finally managed to make the crisis register on the world's conscience.

"This year was sufficiently bad in Niger to raise it over the threshold and it became visible," Nigel Tricks, Niger country director for Concern Worldwide said.

"Niger is a forgotten country," he added. "For years it has existed under very difficult conditions. The international community has failed the vulnerable people of Niger for decades." The failure of the 2004 harvest was particularly crushing for Niger and the country now faces a food deficit of 223,000 tonnes - its biggest shortage for 20 years.

The United Nations estimates that 2.5 million of Niger's 12 million people live on less than one meal per day and survive on wild roots and leaves.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), up to 150,000 children under five in Niger suffer acute malnutrition. The handful of therapeutic feeding centres established by MSF and other aid agencies record infant deaths on a daily basis.

New harvest due in late September
Aid experts say it is crucial to get food aid into Niger over the next month to keep people alive until the new harvest begins in late September.

The current rainy season began well in late May and crops planted since then are growing well, but most rural granaries are empty, food prices in the markets have more than doubled and this year's grain crop will not be ready to harvest for another 10 weeks. Until then, many villagers in Niger will be forced to survive on whatever they can scavenge unless food aid reaches them soon.

Nomadic herdsmen, who have seen their cattle die of thirst and starvation, are at even greater risk than crop growing farmers. Humanitarian workers reckon it will take them at least two years to rebuild their herds.

This week in Niamey aid workers, government officials and UN humanitarian representatives met to fine-tune plans to distribute free food in the hardest hit regions.

Save the Children UK, which did not previously have an office in Niger, dispatched nutritionists and logisticians to the southern towns of Maradi and Zinder in early July to run feeding programmes for malnourished children, according to an emergency advisor with the aid group.

She said it had been very difficult to get international donors to dip into their pockets for Niger, a country which has not hit the headlines for drought and famine for many years. "Niger is sexy now. Children are dying" When Save the Children says, 'We need money for Niger,' people say, 'Why?'" she asked. "The donors don't want to give to something that's not sexy. Niger is sexy now. Children are dying."

Quist of Oxfam-GB said it was ironic that Niger had been forgotten while the world media had been focused on the recent G8 summit in Scotland, where the world's richest countries said that easing poverty in Africa would be adopted as a top priority.

"They say they want to make poverty history and put Africa at the top of their agenda," Quist said. "Meanwhile people are dying." "It is too late for some people in Niger. It's also too late for so many animals and that is people's livelihoods. But there are still some people we can save," she added.

Oxfam-GB is setting up a US $2 million programme to provide food to at least 130,000 people. It also plans to assist nomadic herders to replenish lost livestock.

Concern Worldwide's Tricks, who has been based in Niger for one year, said if the G8 leaders were serious about helping Africa, they should help to prevent crises like the one in Niger.

"Let's get away from thinking about Niger in 2005," he said. "What's happening now is symptomatic of a wider problem of neglecting grave problems in sub-Saharan Africa."

Concern Worldwide has sent in about 12 international staff to run feeding programmes in Niger's Tahoua region.

The Niger government has been selling subsidised food to people in the worst affected areas for several months. It agreed last week to conduct free food distributions in the hardest hit regions.

Bakary Seidou, the head of the government's national crisis unit, told IRIN on Friday he was meeting with international aid workers to plan how to coordinate the distribution of free food to 1.6 million people.

While appealing for international aid to help feed the destitute, Niger's own people have been dipping into their pockets to help out their compatriots.

Although the average income per capita in Niger is only $190 per year, an appeal launched by the prime minister in May has so far raised 832 million CFA francs (about US $1.5 million) to help feed the hungry, according to the national crisis unit.



-- Edited by Tina McBain at 22:38, 2005-07-22

-- Edited by Tina McBain at 22:40, 2005-07-22

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House on Fire

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Reflecting on what I wrote before, I think what I was really saying was that Niger may be poor economically, but the style of the clothing suggests the people are used to better times and have a rich cultural heritage.  The scenes we've seen on the TV this past week are very different from the biblical scenes of famine we saw in Ethiopia in 1984 with everyone in brown.  To me, it is quite incongruous to see starving children amongst such colour and, frankly, well-fed looking mothers.



On the fair trade issue, I wonder where the cloth for their clothes comes from.  Is it home produced or imported?  I hope it is woven locally.


I looked out for some Nigerienne music.  I couldn't find much.  Here is a sampler of modern Nigerienne 'pop' music, which uses both modern (Western) and traditional instruments in what sounds like modern interpretations of traditional styles.  I've listened to it three times straight through now on continuous play and I'm really getting to like it!  Like African music in general, it has "ambiance", which means it gets better and better the longer it goes on (also called "hypnotic" or "trance" music).  I may well add it to my next music order!




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Tonight

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On the TV news here in the US, I haven't heard a thing about Niger. I guess we're too busy with missing teenagers in foreign nations, a government scandel, and a new supreme court seat open. But then again, this is the way things have always been here, us first then the world.

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Tonight

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News is coming in from BBC now, that the Scots (!!) have made a fantastic effort to raise monies for famine relief efforts. Are there any Scots out there who can describe what's been done exactly? On another tangent, on BBC America last night, a relief agency executive or British official, said that "Live8 had hindered relief efforts in that the audience's attention had been diverted to the rock shows instead of the famine." But he said the last week had seen tremendous advances. PS Oeokosko, my computer system could not support the music link, needed an update, etc...but Tinariwen, who played at Africa Calling, Eden Project, are a good representative of the nomadic/Arabic genre. A friend from Niger gave me a wonderful cd that is more upbeat, non-trance, called "Niamey Twice" (Niamey is capital) which is at Sterns website, if you, in your vast computer knowledge could post the picture of it, that would be nice, because they represent one of the other ethnic groups of Niger...it's a BIG COUNTRY with A BIG DESERT!!!! Thanks!

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Don't know about the Scot's effort.  They are both mean (mainly to themselves) and generous, so it wouldn't surprise me.


I also saw that report about Live8 pushing the pictures of the Niger famine off the TV.  It's an imperfect world in many ways.


About that other CD of music from Niger, yes, that's the one with the enigmatically named Moussa Poussy.  It is described on Sterns as the "first album of Nigerienne music recorded in a modern studio for international release."  I came across it before but preferred the other one!  Apart from these two, the only others I found - as I remember - were a few field recordings of traditional music.


Niamey Twice CD details


Music link to sample tracks directly



Listening to the music samples now, I definitely prefer the other CD.  The fact that this one was recorded for "international release" means immediately that the music is adapted for what is thought to be the "international audience".  To me that means that the music becomes bland, mushy and poppy and indistinguishable from an "international release" from Algeria, Mali, Ethiopia, etc.  Sorry, motema, I just don't like "international" music any more than I like western pop music.



-- Edited by oeokosko at 08:09, 2005-08-04

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House on Fire

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Somehow the music samples for that other CD, "Denke-Denke", have been pulled from the Sterns website.  I also got that software update needed message, but the real reason is because the music file doesn't exist any more!  What a disappointment!!  I wanted to listen to it again before my next music order.

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Tonight

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Sorry Sterns doesn't have the other cd Denke Denke..maybe later it will turn up on other sites if not Sterns. Thanks for printing the Niamey Twice, however! Some footage, again BBC is really carrying the ball on this, showed Tuareg ladies making soup out of grass (sharing the grass the animals eat) as it is the only food they have now. We are fortunate indeed. I hope aid gets there! The world is changing and we have to keep up with the challenges.

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