Friday, May 18, 2012

Cattle dying as drought strikes Senegal

Coumba Sylla in IOL News (South Africa): In [Wodobere,] the northeastern nook of Senegal, one of the most stable and developed nations in the drought-hit Sahel region, carcasses of cattle lie in the sun, the fields have withered and food depleted. As scanty rains wreaked havoc across the belt, hitting drought-weary Chad, Niger, Mali and other countries, this west African hub is struggling to provide food to its people and entire villages are going hungry.

“The shepherds and people have told us they feel as if they have been left to their own devices,” said famed Senegalese singer Baaba Maal, who last week toured the Matam region from where he originates. In Wodobere, a town of about 6 000 people skirting Mauritania, Maal - an ambassador for British charity Oxfam - called for urgent aid to avert famine as he toured the region, listening to the concerns of villagers and giving concerts.

Crops have failed across eight countries after late and erratic rains in 2011, and aid agencies have raised the spectre of a food crisis bigger than the one which left millions starving in 2010.

This is the third drought in the Sahel in a decade, and while the previous ones were felt mostly in Niger and parts of Chad, this year it has unfolded across the entire region. In Mbelogne, a hamlet where most of the 450 residents survive off animal husbandry, its chief Ely Hamady Diallo said: “There are problems both with food and water, for people and for the animals...

Guzzling cattle in Senegal, shot by Adama Diop, public domain

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