The locust invasion swept across what is known as the Northern Sahel region in 2004 destroying crops in Niger, Senegal, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Burkina Faso and slashing the annual grain harvest.
Niger is one of the worst affected countries, leaving 3.5 million people in need of food aid and an estimated 150,000 children facing acute malnutrition. The international community has been slow to respond to the situation in Niger as pledges of aid continue to fall short and the situation deteriorates.
More than 2.7 million people are also facing food shortages in Mali and Burkina Faso as a result of the locust outbreaks and drought last year. The situation in Niger is also having a knock-on effect in neighbouring countries as traders take their grain to sell in Niger, where the severe shortages have pushed prices up.
Christian Aid works in Senegal, Mali and Burkina Faso and has been working with partners in response to the locust invasion and drought last year and the subsequent food shortages.
Partners are working to mitigate the effects of the food crisis through:
- Enabling cereal banks to manage and distribute food more effectively
- Supplying farmers with information on current market prices for crops
- Organising cereal and seed distribution
- Supporting centres that distribute animal feed and provide training in small scale agriculture
- Training local communities and helping to establish local task forces to deal with any further locust outbreak and helping to establish local government locust prevention and warning systems.
Christian Aid partners are working to develop cereal banks in the badly affected Oudalan and Zondoma provinces in the north. In these provinces food prices have soared and a bag of sorghum that would have cost 8,000 CFAFrancs in April 2004 now costs 18,000 CFAFrancs. Christian Aid partners will be working with 38 cereal banks, providing each bank with 200 tons of cereal and providing training and equipment needed to effectively manage food distribution.
Our partner RADI is working in Mekhe, north of Dakar, where 42 villages lost more than 90% of their watermelon crops and 100% of their peanut, black eyed pea and millet crops because of the locust outbreak. RADI are providing food for people and their animals and providing training so that people are better equipped to prevent locust outbreaks in the future.
Christian Aid partner, APH, is supporting training in locust prevention and market gardening and providing cereals and seeds in Diamnati in the district of Bandiagara. This region is particularly drought prone and lost between 50 - 75% of its food production following the locust outbreak.