More than 15 million people are being affected by a drought which has swept West Africa. Their lives are at risk, say aid agencies, due to the combined effects of poor weather conditions, including severe heat and low rainfall, with poor governance and low levels of infrastructure to handle such extreme shifts in the climate.
Eight countries in the region have been hit, leading to widely fluctuating prices for both animals and grain. In turn, this economic instability has left farmers and others unsure if they will be able to survive on the proceeds from selling their emaciated animals.
Rivers have dried up, grain stores are empty, and what water is available from aging wells is often contaminated with parasites – leading to widespread disease and forcing hundreds of thousands of people to migrate, placing additional burdens on scant resources. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has said that more than a million children face acute malutrition in Mali alone.
Organisations such as Oxfam are refurbishing wells and attempting to provide aid to those most affected in order to help tackle what Dubai filmmaker Ali Mostafa described as potentially “the worst food crisis of all time”.