Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sahel faces new food crisis

Terra Daily via Agence France-Presse: Only five years after a severe food shortage north-central Africa is again fearing the worst before the September harvest, with 10 million people threatened in this arid region known as the Sahel. In Niger alone, the country hardest hit, more than seven million residents -- nearly half the population -- are in need of food, and both Niger and neighboring Chad have declared states of emergency.

Niger's south-central Maradi region is a testament to things again gone wrong: villages and schools lie deserted after hundreds of people fled drought and hunger, some moving to the cities while others headed south to Nigeria. Animals are dying from lack of fodder and water. "This is the worst crisis in 30 years", worse than 1984 or 2005, Alio Mahamane, a member of Niger's farmers organisation, told AFP.

Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad and Mali are similarly affected, after last year's insufficient or irregular rains left poor crops and a desperate shortage of cattle feed in a region already suffering endemic malnutrition. The situation has triggered appeals for international aid for this belt spanning the southern flank of the Sahara Desert….

Aerial view of Gobero archaeological site in Niger from Holocene, from Sereno P.C., Garcea E.A.A., Jousse H., Stojanowski C.M., Sali├Ęge J-F., et al. 2008. Lakeside Cemeteries in the Sahara: 5000 Years of Holocene Population and Environmental Change. PLoS ONE 3(8): e2995. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0002995 Figure 2, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license

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