News / Africa

Aid Group Warns Sahel Once Again Facing Food Crisis

Image released by Oxfam shows a women pointing at the dry land in Oud Guedara. Early indicators point to a likely food crisis in 2012, with people at particularly high risk in Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali and Chad, December 11, 2011.
Image released by Oxfam shows a women pointing at the dry land in Oud Guedara. Early indicators point to a likely food crisis in 2012, with people at particularly high risk in Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali and Chad, December 11, 2011.
Jane Labous

Aid agencies are again warning of another food crisis in Africa's Sahel region.  The consequences of last year’s scant rains and exceptionally poor harvest are now being harvested in northern Senegal.  The Red Cross says more than 800,000 people in seven regions are at risk of severe food insecurity and it doesn’t have enough funds to address the situation.

Cheikh Seye Dienj, the Red Cross coordinator in St. Louis, says surveys and interviews with some 800 families in villages across three regions - St. Louis, Dagama and Podor -  show the situation is heading towards the crisis point.

Human toll

Dienj says the wells have dried up and people don't have enough water for their fruits and vegetables.  He says families are now selling their belongings to survive.

On the approach to the village of Ndoye Diagne, 17 kilometers outside the northern town of St. Louis, bright green patches of cabbages and onions can been seen growing amid the otherwise arid landscape.  These vegetables are the only crops hardy enough to grow in the dry conditions.

When asked if they have enough to feed their children, the women weeding these tiny vegetable patches and drawing water from the few wells that remain, laugh and shake their heads.

Mamadou Diagne, the Red Cross representative in this village of 36 families, says the problems are compounded because villagers are being priced out of the market by cheap, imported onions.  When imported onions are sold at market, the price of local onions falls from 40 cents per kilo to 15 cents per kilo.

He says there are even some of us who have sold off our animals to make some money and get seeds and materials, and aid agencies have given us grain and a few seeds.   

But Diagne says the villagers are getting by for now.

"We go to the market and we sell our animals, he says, so that we can buy a little bit of oil, sugar, rice, that kind of thing, and manage the situation.  It is all we can do," said Diagne. "We need food - and we need to reconstruct our wells so that we can grow vegetables again."

The Red Cross says is does not have enough funds to reconstruct all the wells, which each cost around $100 to build.

No government help

Meanwhile the Senegalese government - preoccupied with the controversial presidential elections later this month - appears not to be focused on the situation.

Villagers say they have received no government help and many people in the country are not aware of the crisis brewing in the north.

Amadou Fall Canar Diop, from the government’s Civil Protection Unit, says the government is preparing a plan and will react soon.

In the village of Kalasan, 13 kilometers from St. Louis, villager and Red Cross representative Arona Gueye is the father and grandfather of 10 children.

He says the price for rice alone has gone up 50 percent, and villagers are now forced to borrow sugar, rice, tea and other basic products to feed their families.

"Absolutely nothing of last year’s harvest remains," says Gueye.  "It’s all gone.  We will get loans to survive.  He says local merchants will lend them things like sugar and rice and they will somehow repay them after this year’s harvest."

Some villagers are leaving for the cities to try to make cash, while others sell wood and charcoal to survive.

The United Nations in January warned that the international community should not wait until people are starving to act.  The U.N. Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, said cash is needed in the short term, but donors must ensure that food reserves are pre-positioned in risk prone regions.

Countries affected by the looming food crisis, besides Senegal, are Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Burkina Faso.

You May Like

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs