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

    Can EU Survive a Brexit?

    Across Europe politicians are asking if the British vote to leave the European Union will set in motion dynamics that will see other member states leave too

    Video Entrepreneurs at Global Summit Tackle Range of Challenges

    Innovators strive to halt sexual harassment in India, improve rural health in Myanmar, build businesses in Africa

    Key African Anti-Venom About to Permanently Run Out

    The tale of Fav-Afrique’s demise is a complicated one that reflects a deeper crisis brewing in global public health

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Britain’s Vote to Leave EU Sends Shockwaves Through Global Marketsi
    X
    June 24, 2016 10:43 AM
    Britain’s historic decision to leave the European Union is sending shockwaves through global markets. Markets from Tokyo to Europe tumbled Friday under the uncertainty the ballot brings, while regional leaders in Asia took steps to limit the possible fallout. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Britain’s Vote to Leave EU Sends Shockwaves Through Global Markets

    Britain’s historic decision to leave the European Union is sending shockwaves through global markets. Markets from Tokyo to Europe tumbled Friday under the uncertainty the ballot brings, while regional leaders in Asia took steps to limit the possible fallout. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.
    Video

    Video During Ramadan, Faith and Football Converge in Lebanon’s Megadome

    In Beirut, a group of young entrepreneurs has combined its Muslim faith and love of football to create the city's newest landmark: a large, Ramadan-ready dome primed for one of the biggest football (soccer) tournaments in the world. But as the faithful embrace the communal spirit of Islam’s holy month, it is not just those breaking their fasts that are welcome.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora