August 01, 2005

Niger: Not Just a Food Shortage

It isn't entirely that there a shortage of food in Niger, though there has been a drought, it's that there's a shortage of money:

In Tahoua market, there is no sign that times are hard. Instead, there are piles of red onions, bundles of glistening spinach, and pumpkins sliced into orange shards. There are plastic bags of rice, pasta and manioc flour, and the sound of butchers' knives whistling as they are sharpened before hacking apart joints of goat and beef.

A few minutes' drive from the market, along muddy streets filled with puddles of rainwater, there is the more familiar face of Niger. Under canvas tents, aid workers coax babies with spidery limbs to take sips of milk, or the smallest dabs of high-protein paste.

... The hunger crisis has struck communities which depend on a mix of subsistence farming and herding for their livelihoods. The stories told by the women in the treatment centre show that their plight began when locusts ate their crop and cattle fodder, but spiralled when the prices of food in the market shot out of reach. ...

There are things the free market just doesn't seem to be able to fix. What will it take to get the people in power to admit it?

Posted by natasha at August 1, 2005 12:31 AM | International | Technorati links |

Well, if experience is any guide, it involves the R word.

Posted by: serial catowner at August 1, 2005 06:38 AM