Tag Archives: West Africa food crisis

Food crisis leaves holes in a community

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.

One small cry: Hassane's fight against malnutrition

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.

Hunger in West Africa: Putting you in their shoes

You are in a small health clinic in southern Chad. It is 9 a.m. The air is hot, dry, and filled with cries.

You are amidst 40 mothers sitting on the ground or on the clinic’s porch, babies in their laps. Under brightly colored headscarves, their faces look tired, drawn, sad. You catch glimpses of the babies. Their skin is stretched over their chests like paper over wire frames. Their legs are long and thin. Their bellies are protruding. Four of the mothers, clearly malnourished themselves but still trying to breastfeed their babies, are sitting on a wooden bench. In front of them is a row of tall, yellow roses.

You have never seen so much color and sadness in the same place. The contrast is unbearable. But you try to cope.

Then, your name is called out. You look up. But it’s not you who is being called. It is one of the mothers. She struggles to get onto her feet. She walks with her baby into the consultation room. Tears flow down the baby’s face as he is measured, weighed, and the nutrition-monitoring band is wrapped around his arm. You don’t need to wait to hear the results to know that he is severely malnourished.