If you haven’t had a chance yet, be sure to check out this article in the New York Times that provides a detailed, intimate report of the ongoing famine in Niger.
A brief excerpt:
Once again Niger is facing a food crisis, a grimly familiar predicament in a vast desert country with an explosive birthrate and rudimentary agriculture. Rains and crops failed last year — rainfall was about 70 percent below normal in the region — and now half the population of 15 million faces food shortages, officials say. Thus it was in 2005, 1985 and 1974.
But there is a big difference this year: the new military government here is acknowledging serious hunger, trying to do something about it — and asking for help.
Before the country’s autocratic president, Mamadou Tandja, was overthrown in February, the state warehouses remained stocked, despite the people’s need for help. Now they are largely empty of grain, a sign of how much has been distributed in recent weeks.
The new prime minister travels the suffering countryside, asking about the food shortage. Before, Mr. Tandja would fly into a rage at the very mention of the word famine, according to officials and newspapers here.