Twenty years after the charity concerts for the Sahel Nigerien politicians, institutional donors, aid agencies and humanitarian organisations clashed on the nature and substance of the crisis affecting Niger in 2005. Identifying the causes of, and adequate responses to, the situation also gave rise to profound disagreements. Having set up their most ambitious emergency nutrition programme to date, Médecins Sans Frontières found itself at the forefront of these controversies.
In a report titled "A Dangerous Delay", Oxfam and Save the Children rebuke everyone - governments, humanitarian organisations, the United Nations - who participated in the humanitarian response to the food crisis that struck the Horn of Africa in recent months.
Using Niger as an example, this text seeks to explore the dilemmas involved in medical responses to child malnutrition when such malnutrition is endemic (strong, permanent presence) and gives rise to seasonal peaks (epidemics) each year.
In 2008, Southern Ethiopia was the epicentre of a vast nutritional intervention: more than 100,000 malnourished children received assistance from a mix of actors including both international actors and local health facilities.
This study sheds light on the mechanisms producing the official data used by humanitarian aid decision makers. It views Early Warning Systems (EWS) as tools that facilitate consensus between the decision-makers involved in the allocation of food aid, enabling them to reach institutional agreements.