In-depth: Food and nutrition crisis in Niger and the Western Sahel

NIGER: "We drew lots to decide which children to help"

Village chief of Bagga, Idrissa Dayabou, with two of his sons
BAGGA, 18 August 2010 (IRIN) - Like millions of Nigeriens, residents of Bagga village, in the central region of Tahoua, have been struggling to find enough food to eat. Granaries are empty and harvests are not due for another two months. IRIN spoke to some of the villagers.

Village chief Idrissa Dayabou, father of 10: “People are suffering. Some have left for neighbouring countries to look for work. About 500 people [out of a population of 5,000] have gone to Niamey [Niger’s capital], Cameroon, Gabon or Nigeria. They will try to sell food or work as porters.

“Only 100 children have received any assistance. Many more children needed help, but we were told to pick 100. In the end, we had to draw lots to select them.

“The toughest thing now is that some people have nothing, not even for today or tomorrow. Some people just don’t eat.

“If everything goes well, we will harvest by the end of September or the beginning of October. But if the rains stop, our millet will die again and there will be no harvests.

Yaga Bawa, 70: “There is nothing to eat, our stomachs are empty. Harvests were bad last year. I only had enough to feed my family for two or three months.

“Every year is worse than the previous one. That’s the third difficult year in a row. I cannot remember having experienced anything like this before. Initially, we had some small stocks, but now we have absolutely nothing left.

“If you have children, you have to send them to work. My oldest son has gone to work in someone else’s field. He is seven.

“Yesterday I sold a goat for 10,000 CFA [US$20]. That’s not even enough to buy a bag of rice. It would normally be worth 30,000 CFA.

Ousseina Abdullahi, mother of three: “We harvested nothing last year. I have to find some work to feed the children. I draw water for others or I tend to their fields. Yesterday, I worked on someone’s land. I earned 1,000 CFA [$2]. It allowed me to buy some millet for two days. Tomorrow I will have to look for more work.

“On days where I don’t find work, I have to ask for leftovers from others or find some leaves to eat.

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Links & Resources

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Permanent Interstate Committee for drought control in the Sahel (CILSS, in French)
The Secretary-General's High-Level Task Force
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