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Food Distribution Underway in Drought-Stricken Niger

In the village of Garin Goubli in Niger, life appears to go on as normal. A woman draws water from the village well. Construction on a new mosque continues. And farmers tend to the fields. This year's crop promises to be a good harvest.

But last year's drought has left the people of this village with very little to eat. Most vulnerable are children.

One mother says, "We have nothing to give them. We have no food."

Another woman, nine months pregnant laments, "I really worry. The baby continues to move and move until I eat."

But on this day relief arrives from UNICEF, the United Nations Children Fund. UNICEF is distributing 200 bags of grain to help the village survive until this year's harvest. The village is creating a food bank where villagers can purchase the grain at a very reduced rate.

Village leader Mousa Goubli says they will maintain this practice of keeping food in reserve to be prepared for future droughts. "It is a good idea and will help change our mentality."

As the women receive their grain, their demeanor immediately changes from resignation and anger to relief and joy.

"We thank God! We thank UNICEF!" shouts a villager.

UNICEF's Rima Salah says more needs to be done to reach all the people affected by the drought in Niger.

"UNICEF has distributed almost 1,000 tons and we need another 3,000 tons. But the international community for the first time has responded to our appeal for Niger,” says Ms. Salah. “This country is poor. It is one of the poorest countries in the world, where the indicators are the lowest. One in every four children dies before they celebrate their fifth birthday. One in seven mothers will die in childbirth."

While the village of Garin Goubli is celebrating, others still wait. And with the start of the rainy season it will be a race against time and the elements to help sustain the people of Niger until the next harvest.