As the food crisis continues to spread across the Sahel region, the lean season, also called the hunger season, has also started in the region, making day to day life even more of a struggle. It is a time that families look ahead to the next harvest while trying to cope with minimal food and the impending rainy season.
The World Food Program, WFP and its partners have launched a regional response to the crisis to reach more than nine million people who are in need of food.
Stephanie Tremblay, a spokesperson for the WFP’s Nairobi office, was recently in Niger. She said the country relies heavily on agriculture to support itself, and the harvest last year was not good and in some areas locusts had destroyed crops while other areas had drought, causing food shortages.
However, Tremblay said local villagers, along with humanitarian agencies, have been working together to provide solutions to the food shortages.
“One very good thing that has been happening this year is that we’ve known this was coming. We’ve known that it would be hard for people and we’ve prepared,” said Tremblay.
She said the WFP has focused on the most vulnerable areas of the country, talking to people and working with them.
“They presented projects on how could they help their land get better, and not go to neighboring countries to try to make money to send to their families back to Niger,” said Tremblay.
As a result Tremblay said she sees dozens of projects where people are finding innovative solutions to improve their land.
For example, in one small village she visited, people in the community had come together and built something very simple to help preserve their seeds when the rains come.
“They built little holes in the land so that they could plant seeds and fertilize them so that when it rains, the seeds don’t wash away, and they have a better chance of growing more food,” explained Tremblay.
Tremblay said the result of these types of projects have been very positive. People have more money to purchase food, and they’ve been able to stay in their homes.