I’m in Niger, reporting on the growing hunger crises affecting millions across the region and getting a glimpse into just how difficult it is to live and work here.
The journey to work
I arrived after a very long flight to find my luggage had been lost somewhere between Nairobi and Ougadoudou.
We’d flown in on a tiny propeller plane and when we came to land, a sand storm swept in. Everything turned bright amber and we couldn’t see a thing. The pilot struggled to keep control – the plane dipped and dived while the passengers around me said their prayers.
We almost had to turn back for Ouagadougou – then it passed, just like that, and we landed safe and sound. Everyone on the plane was cheering, hugging and crying. Bon arrivé!!
We headed to a village in Maradi, one of the three regions in Niger that’s been hardest hit by drought. There was little movement in the village when we arrived there, as most people had taken refuge in the shade from the oppressive late morning sun.
I’m invited by the chief of the village to visit the school. And that’s where I meet 10-year-old Abdoul.
He tells me there isn’t enough food to eat where he lives. So his friends are leaving the village with their parents. He’s lost two of his brothers, and, recently, one of his best friends, whose parents didn’t have enough to feed him and he got very sick.
Abdoul and his family live on just one meal a day of cassava, which has very little nutritional worth.
“I’m hungry because I haven’t eaten since yesterday. It makes me feel unwell,” says Abdoul.
“My mother can only afford to buy 50 CFA of cassava, which has to be shared by seven of us.”
Our translator tells me it would cost 100 CFA for just one normal sized portion for a boy of his age.
“If the world doesn’t help us I’m scared more friends and even my family will die”, he said. It was horrible to hear. It’s not right that a ten-year-old should be going through this just because of a simple lack of nutritious food.
There’s enough food in the world for everyone, but right now, because of the food crisis and despite the government’s efforts here, life is incredibly difficult for children in Niger.
Sending stories home
I’m in Niger for two months, looking at all kinds of work we’re doing to help save children’s lives. From getting mums what they need to give birth safely, to helping families survive the crisis and feed themselves.
I hope you’ll keep coming and reading my blogs, and meeting these families with me. Look out for new ‘Inside Story’ posts on Tuesdays on facebook.com/savethechildrenuk and follow me @jonathanhyams for the latest pictures.