"We must keep going and we must try again... but we're running out of options"
Bo Banks, The Gambia
Amat Joof, 38, is a cereal farmer in the northern region of The Gambia. Like most farmers in this part of the world, his harvest failed due to an erratic rainy season.
He said goodbye to his wife last January when she left to seek work in Senegal. He hasn’t heard from her since.
Now, he and his brother are sharing the responsibility for 13 children in his compound. His family is facing deepening poverty in the coming months.
Each year Amat depends on income from corn, millet and groundnuts. They eat the millet and use money from groundnuts and corn to pay school fees, cooking materials and vegetables to supplement the family’s diet.
Amat says his remaining millet stock will finish this week. It normally lasts until July.
While Amat believes his family can cope during the crisis, the main cause of Amat’s worry is having seeds for the next growing season.
"We must keep going and we must try again’’, he says. While they always save seeds from the harvest, the seeds this year are such a low quality they will likely fail.
He is hoping his wife will be able to bring back groundnuts from Senegal they can use to plant in July. Amat speaks of his small village of 220 people, and says "this year nobody is better than the other. We are running out of options, but by the grace of god we will get through this’’.
Due to the emerging food crisis across the Sahel, aid agencies are spread thin and it is becoming increasingly difficult to reach the millions of people affected.
For Amat and his community, tucked 20 kilometers off the main road on the northern Gambian border, they have little hope for any support.