Saturday, February 21, 2009

Record cold snap kills crops, animals in Guinea, via IRIN: Near-freezing temperatures in north-central Guinea in January destroyed crops and livestock on which thousands of people depend for food as well as cash. Elderly locals told IRIN they had never seen cold this intense in Mali, a town in Guinea's Labé region.

"The vegetation looks as if it was burned in a fire," Hannibal Barry of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) told IRIN from Mali on 19 February during a joint evaluation by UN agencies, local authorities and NGOs.

Temperatures dropped to 1.4 degrees Celsius from 17 to 26 January, according to a preliminary report by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP). The cold wiped out crops - mainly potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, onions and bananas - across five districts in Mali. It is not yet known how many hectares were destroyed, Mamadou Saliou III Diallo, head of agricultural operations at the Mali prefecture, told IRIN after visiting the affected areas.

In one district, the cold destroyed 15 hectares, he said, adding that UN and local officials continued to survey the area. …Many people had borrowed money for crops from a rural credit bank, said Diallo, who lost his potato and tomato harvest. "Now people here are asking themselves how they will be able to pay their debts and at the same time feed their families."

FAO is initially appealing for US$500,000 to help families affected by the cold, Mariatou Coulibaly, FAO emergency coordinator in Guinea, told IRIN from the capital Conakry…

Locator map of Guinea by Vardion, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5, Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 and Attribution ShareAlike 1.0 License

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