The West Africa food crisis continues to intensify as drought tightens its grip on places like Mali. Could entire communities really be left without any food if action isn't taken? The story of Zama and his family suggests that, indeed, they could.
Imagine yourself in a dry, hot, dusty landscape, where water sources are scarce, and where parents don't know whether they have enough food for their children for the day -- or where tomorrow's food will even come from. This is a glimpse into the West African country of Mali, where the regional drought and food crisis is intensifying quickly.
What does clean water mean to you? How often do you think about it? In her fourth blog entry, World Vision's Lauren Fisher compares two communities in Niger -- one that has a safe source of water, and one that does not. Follow Lauren's trip here on our blog or @WorldVisionNews (#wvlauren) for live, on-the-ground reports from the field.
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Lately, you could say water has become a major obsession of mine. In the past, I’ve taken it for granted. It’s the back-up beverage when I can’t find iced tea or soda; it's the bath I can count on at the end of a long day.
But as one colleague told me, in Zinder, water is precious. For me, that means there is no water at all, without warning, at any given time. At any given time, the shower stops working mid-shampoo, along with any other bathroom fixture. It’s made for some comical mornings, as you can well imagine.
Of course, I’m happy that the United Nations has declared an end to the famine in Somalia. This is encouraging news, considering that six regions of the country were designated as famine zones last July. However, an estimated 2 million people still face serious food shortages in Somalia. Our work in the drought-ravaged Horn of Africa is nowhere near done.
How would you respond if you heard a 13-year-old girl say that on some days, she simply doesn't eat? World Vision's Lauren Fisher, covering the drought and food crisis in Niger and across West Africa, writes her third blog post recounting stories of visits with people and communities affected by this emergency. Follow Lauren here on our blog or @WorldVisionNews (#wvlauren) for live, on-the-ground reports from the field.
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“Someday, I want to be an NGO [non-governmental organization] worker.”
Shy 13-year-old Koubra Mamane’s answer surprises me. A bit hesitant in her speech, and a bit skeptical of the whole interview, she reminds me of your typical teenage girl. She tells us she loves mathematics and has to help her mom around the house. She shows us her school books carefully stowed in a bright yellow and red purse.
“I like calculations in school, but I also like the other subjects because I want to become intelligent and gain knowledge,” she adds.
But her dreams of the future wouldn’t be the only answer that gives me pause. In fact, the next one has been stuck in my head ever since it came out of her mouth. We ask Koubra about the food shortages in her village. She says that when there is no money, her family cannot buy food.
Those days, she and her family do not eat.
World Vision's Lauren Fisher is on the ground in Niger, where prolonged drought has resulted in weak harvests and a food crisis similar to what the Horn of Africa has suffered over the past year. Follow Lauren here on our blog or @WorldVisionNews (#wvlauren) for live, on-the-ground reports from the field.
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It’s 3 p.m., and the school is alive with clapping, singing, and plenty of desperate hand-raising. We’re spending our afternoon with the children of the Toungouzou village at their school, built by World Vision.
It looks like most schools you’ve been in, complete with the light scent of chalk dust, the boards filled with maps and songs. The children, ranging in age from 6 to about 13, are excited to see the cameras and to have some new people to admire their recently learned skills. A beautiful young girl in red dress and scarf comes up to the front to show us the song she’s learned. She beams shyly at our applause. We find out later that she’s 12 years old and hopes to be a doctor someday.
But along with the hopes and dreams in this classroom, the reality of the food crisis in Niger is here as well. There are several empty spots in the classroom where pupils once sat.
Lauren Fisher, emergency communications manager with World Vision, has been deployed to Niger for five weeks. Throughout West Africa, as many as 23 million people may be affected by the hunger crisis there in the coming months, including 13 million in World Vision's program areas. Follow Lauren here on our blog or @WorldVisionNews (#wvlauren) for live, on-the-ground reports from the field.
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It was the best moment of the day. Not the warm smiles and waves of the villagers, not the sound and sight of sparkling, precious water hitting the waiting buckets, not even the laughs of children seeing how my camera worked.
Instead, the moment that brought us all to laughs, clapping, and even near tears came from one little wail from a tiny 2-year-old.
The nurse had tried to change the angle of the Plumpy’Nut™ little Hassane was clutching so tightly. Moments before, he was all but motionless in his mother’s arms, reacting only with shrieks as the nurse at the child nutrition clinic tried to weigh him.
We didn’t need the red marker of the band measuring his arm circumference to tell that he was severely malnourished. With tiny arms and legs, little Hassane looked to me much more like a small infant than a boy who was nearly a toddler. He weighed just 16 pounds.
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