For Tanlimba, an elderly woman who can no longer work in the fields, receiving food through the Canadian Foodgrains Bank network was life-saving.
“I usually receive help from my brother and my brother’s children,” she says, “but life has completely changed – I have never seen dryness like this year.”
Her extended family’s millet harvest was so poor that they did not even bother to harvest the stalks since the grain had been eaten by pests.
“We have already sold all of our animals to buy food, and that food is gone,” she says.
“We bless everyone who has brought us this help.”
Tanlimba is one of more than 250,000 people in Africa’s drought-affected Sahel region that are receiving food through Canadian Foodgrains Bank.
The 10,145 tonnes of food includes millet, maize, beans, and oil. It is being distributed through Foodgrains Bank member agencies and their partners in Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso.
More than 18 million people are at risk of hunger in the Sahel region, including 6.4 million in Niger, 4.6 million in Mali and just over 2 million in Burkina Faso.
According to Mary, a volunteer at one of the food distributions in the south of Niger, the food is already alleviating suffering in the villages.
“Now people can prepare their fields for planting instead of spending all of their time searching for food,” she says.
Getting Food to People in Need Now that the tendering and procurement process for the food is complete, the Foodgrains Bank logistics team will continue to monitor the movement of food carefully, making sure it arrives on time for distribution to communities in need.
Vanessa Brown, logistics officer at the Foodgrains Bank who worked on procuring much of the food for the region, was confident that the food would get to the people who needed it.
“The suppliers we work with are professional and know what they were doing – they are able to source food from the region and deliver it to the communities that need it.”
Much of the food was sourced from neighbouring countries like Nigeria and Côte d’Ivoire, and quality control was done in conjunction with local governments, who tested samples of the food.
Most of the food is being distributed to households in one-month rations.
To date, the Foodgrains Bank has committed $9.7 million to the Sahel response. These projects are made possible by support from the Canadian International Development Agency.
See a photo slideshow of Foodgrains Bank work in Niger at http://foodgrainsbank.ca/niger_food_crisis.aspx.