Surviving plagues of locust and drought: the people of Niger share their stories

A grandmother: "It was one day at noon; the sky was covered with locust just like clouds. Men, women and children were afraid. Locusts invaded our farms and our houses. People didn't know what to do, or where to go. Never in my life have I seen such a thing. An hour was enough for them to finish up a farm. Locusts are yellow and bizarre.

"We have not been able to do anything except simply remain in the village. Most of the young people and the ones with enough strenght to walk have migrated to the coasts [Benin, Ghana and Ivory Coast], only the old people and the very young have remained in the village.

"The famine is due to the locusts. When they came they ate everything; millet, grass even the earth. I have never seen anything like this. We have nothing to eat except leaves and herbs. But is it only recently that we have been able to eat the leaves, since the rain started."

Baki: "I ate leaves for lunch because of the famine; the famine was caused by the locusts so my parents don't have anything from the crops. All of the families are trying to survive by eating herbs and bran [usually this is given to animals, bran from millet and maize]. We get the bran from the market. The famine brought about disease in the village, many diseases."

Sherifa: "We are trying to survive by weaving plates and mats and with that we go to the market and sell them in order to buy bran; because this is cheap. It is difficult to sell the mats and sometimes we have to travel too far to sell them. We sell them for 200 CFA." [20 pence approximately]

Djafarou: "I used to go to school, but gave up because of the famine. My family has nothing to eat. I can not go to school without something to eat. We are making cords to sell. We didn't get anything from the fields; we are surviving on herbs and bran."

Sayatou: "It was the first time that we had seen locusts like this. It was like a plague. They were like clouds in the sky, and covered the trees and the earth... We thought it was the end of the world. We didn't know where to go or what to do."

Village Chief: "We're surviving on leaves and bran. The situation is so tough that we cannot cultivate the land because you have to eat to have the energy to farm. Sometimes we can go 2 days without eating. Last year I cultivated 4 farms, but we didn't get any crops from them."

Plan Community Worker, Hamsatou Adamu: "It was at noon when the locusts came and people were afraid and people were shouting, old men and young men and it was difficult to see the earth because they covered the trees and the earth and they ate everything.

I can not remember the exact month when this happened. From the arrival of the locusts up until now people do not know what to do.

People just remain in the village. We are trying to get whatever food there is just to survive. What used to be given to animals is now eaten by people; so it has changed the lives of people and people are sick.

People are just staying at the village with the expectation that help will come. Those who do not have relatives in cities [to send money] are only relying on herbs to eat. Among the diseases are stomach ache and diarrhea and children are malnourished because of the change in diet."

Abdul (18 years old): "I was afraid because I had never seen anything like it before. Here locusts have changed my life, people are hungry and now we are eating things that we never ate before."