On a good day, Yapoa Lale, a mother of four, eats three meals. Her children eat more often.
But this is not a good day—there is no grain left at Yapoa’s house.
“The storage is finished, there is nothing left,” she says through a translator, shifting her baby from her back onto her lap.
Before this period of drought, Yapoa’s family, like many in her village of Tamfahou in southwest Niger, had a few goats. But now they have all been sold to earn money to buy food—all of which has already been eaten.
“Hunger is the biggest sickness you can have,” she says pointing at her body. “My body is not supposed to look like this.”
Hunger also means “you cannot work or produce anything,” she adds. “My body has no power.”
Worst of all is not being able to feed her children. It disturbs her to be “a mother who cannot provide food for her children.”
When asked how hunger is affecting her children, Yapoa lifts up her shirt to show her small breasts that her baby daughter, Martine, is trying to nurse from. They are not producing enough milk
“She sucks, but there is no milk,” she says.
Tamfahou is well off the main road. The people of the community have only been living in the area for a couple of years. They moved because the land they left behind was very poor. But the last harvest in the new area was also very bad.
“The rain started very late, and then stopped when the millet was just about the give grain,” says David Dale, who also farms in the village.
“Many animals have already died. If the situation persists, we are going to die.”
According to Jim Cornelius, Executive Director of Canadian Foodgrains Bank, the situation in Niger is extremely serious.
“People like Yapoa and her family are in crisis,” he says. “Many people in Niger are already living close to the margin. A drought like the one they experienced this year is pushing them over the edge."
Adding to the problem are high food prices, he adds. This makes it even more difficult for people to access the food they need.
Canadian Foodgrains Bank is responding to food needs in Yapoa’s village through Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace and its partner, CADEV Niger, together with support from Mennonite Central Committee, the United Church of Canada and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
In addition to providing food, CADEV Niger is also helping communities in that country become more resilient by promoting environmentally-sustainable agricultural practices, which aim to improve soil fertility and help people cope with future droughts.
People who would like to help those who are suffering from hunger in Niger can give to the Foodgrains Bank Sahel Emergency Food Appeal, by clicking here or calling 1.800.665.0377.
Top Image: Yapoa Lale and her daughter Martine.
Emily Cain, Communications Coordinator at Canadian Foodgrains Bank visited Foodgrains Bank-supported projects in Niger May 3-17.