Living through the West Africa crisis

Mintou

Food crisis in Niger

The 2011 harvest was disastrous for Mintou and her family. With seven months until the next harvest, Mintou ran out of food to feed her five grandchildren. The family lived through the 2012 food crisis that affected millions of people across the Sahel region of West Africa.

Hamani, Ramatu, Aissa and Imam went through similar experiences in the Dosso and Niamey regions of Niger. Their touching stories are also featured in the photo gallery below.

Our supporters helped us deliver emergency aid to communities across the region, and provided resources for communities to build their resilience for future crises. Read more at West Africa – from food crisis to resilience.

Niger Crisis Media gallery

Mintou does not have enough food to feed herself or her five grandchildren

The 2011 harvest was disastrous for Mintou and her family. Her four sons have left the village to find work abroad so they can send money home. But, with months until the next harvest, Mintou has run out of food to feed her five grandchildren who are now under her care.

Credit: Nick Harrop/CAFOD (Caritas UK)

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Mintou cares for her five grandchildren

“There are some times when the children hold me and say grandma, we need to eat. I don’t have anything. When the children say ‘I’m hungry, please give me some food,’ my heart will be beating and I will be in trouble. Even when the rain starts falling, it will take another three months before the harvest. I have seven months in the darkness. I am afraid of the future.” - Mintou Gani, Niger

Credit: Nick Harrop/CAFOD (Caritas UK)

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Mintou makes brushes from millet stalks to make a living

To help support herself and take care of her five grandchildren through the 2012 West Africa food crisis, Mintou tries to make a living by making brushes out of millet stalks and by collecting firewood to sell at the local market.

Credit: Nick Harrop/CAFOD (Caritas UK)

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Halarou suffers from hunger and lack of concentration without enough food

“When I am really hungry, it hurts my stomach, and then it ends up giving me a headache. When I’m hungry, I don’t have any concentration. I can’t even hear what the teachers are saying.” -Halarou, Niger Halarou is living with his grandmother who is struggling to feed the family as poor harvests have left the family’s food stores empty.

Credit: Nick Harrop/CAFOD (Caritas UK)

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Aissa and her family were forced to leave their village because they didn't have enough food

After a disastrous harvest left Aissa and her family without enough food to survive, they were forced to leave their village in Tahoua, Niger. Today, they live in a camp in Niamey, in a simple shelter made from cardboard boxes and tarpaulin. Aissa’s parents try to find odd-jobs in the city so that they can feed their family. Aissa’s father Momoudou says: “When we are back home, the older children are in school. Unfortunately, here none of them are in school. So when we’re out working, the older ones look after the younger ones. Every day I cry from the bottom of my heart for my children because they are not in school.”

Credit: Nick Harrop/CAFOD (Caritas UK)

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Barren farmlands in Niger have left villagers with no food stores

In the Dosso region in Niger, villagers say that the 2011 harvest was the worst they can remember - even worse than the harvests before the 2010 or 2005 food crises. “We have never known a time like this. This year is unique. We planted sorghum, millet and groundnut – and then the rainfall stopped. If you looked at the field of groundnut, it looked like it was going well, but unfortunately if you pulled the plant out, there was nothing. There was not sufficient water, so the plants couldn’t grow. Instead of seeds and grains, we had nothing.” - Ramatu Harouna, Niger

Credit: Nick Harrop/CAFOD (Caritas UK)

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Hamani and Ramatu do not have enough food from poor harvests

Hamani and Ramatu can normally harvest enough millet and beans to feed their family through the year. But after a disastrous harvest in October 2011, the family has almost run out of food. They are now in a very difficult situation as they face the West Africa food crisis.

Credit: Nick Harrop/CAFOD (Caritas UK)

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2011 drought left Hamani with no produce and he was forced to sell his animals

“We used to have goats and sheep. But this year the situation is very difficult. We have sold the goats and sheep and eaten the food. We have nothing – no goats, no sheep, no cows. I was really unhappy to sell them all. Now I have no animals left. I don’t have anything left to sell.” - Hamani Fodi, Niger

Credit: Nick Harrop/CAFOD (Caritas UK)

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Children muster up energy to play in Niger despite going hungry

“When my grandchildren go hungry, I am not happy at all. What is very painful is when children surround you and say “We need food” and there is no food to give them. It really is painful. We don’t know what will happen.” - Hamani Fodi, Niger

Credit: Nick Harrop/CAFOD (Caritas UK)

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Ramatu hopes to have enough food to support her family

"My main hope is to get enough food to support my family. We have already had some support from CADEV [Caritas Niger]. But now we are in a very difficult situation where we need a lot of support. We have trust in CADEV because we know what CADEV says they do.” - Ramatu Harouna, Niger

Credit: Nick Harrop/CAFOD (Caritas UK)

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Imam Abdowlaye Boukary asks for help to find food so he and his family can return home

“I can only send a message on behalf of everyone who’s been affected by the food crisis. My message is to ask for assistance. If we have your assistance in finding food, we can return home. If there are ways to help us in terms of adaptation to climate change, we would very much appreciate it too.” Imam Abdowlaye Boukary, Niamey, Niger

Credit: Nick Harrop/CAFOD (Caritas UK)

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St Augustine Health Centre treats about 200 people each week for malnutrition

“Through your support, we are doing a lot to treat malnutrition. All I’m asking is for you not to give up. The food situation is very precarious at the moment, especially if you are poor. I really thank you and thank you. Please don’t give up and keep thinking of malnourished people here in Niger.” St Augustine Health Centre, Niamey The St Augustine Health Centre is managed by CADEV (Caritas Niger) and treats about 200 people – mostly small children – for malnutrition each week.

Credit: Nick Harrop/CAFOD (Caritas UK)

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