A photograph released by Oxfam of people near Zinder, Niger, where heavy rains and flooding are compounding food shortages caused by a prolonged drought. Agence France-Presse / Getty Images

September 7, 2010, 10:31 am

Torrential rains and flash floods that swept through cities and villages in West Africa in late August have intensified a food crisis in the region, leaving upwards of 10 million people suffering from severe food shortages, the United Nations and relief organizations warned last week.

The floods, which destroyed crops and livestock, struck an area already on the brink of famine after successive years of drought and failed harvests.

Rising world grain prices, resulting partly from the heat wave and drought that destroyed wheat crops across Russia this summer, are compounding the crisis, relief organizations said. …

The crisis is worst in landlocked Niger, where as many as 400,000 children are at risk of dying of starvation or disease because of malnutrition, the aid group Feed the Children said. With national food reserves gone, some in the country have resorted to eating boiled weeds, according to news reports.

An additional 200,000 people have been left homeless by the recent flash floods. …

The torrential rains that hit the Sahel, a band of semi-arid lands just south of the Sahara desert, were unusually intense and represent a departure from the recurring drought that has gripped the region for several decades. Studies have linked the drying of the region to warming surface waters in the Atlantic and Indian oceans, but whether human-driven climate changes are playing a role in the region’s woes remains unclear.

Intense droughts, some lasting several hundred years, are common in the history of the Sahel. But the arrival of such a long-lived drought this century — a much more likely scenario under some global warming computer models — could make rain-fed subsistence farming in the region virtually untenable, placing the livelihoods of tens of millions in permanent jeopardy, scientists and regional experts have warned.

Food Crisis Worsens in West Africa


  1. Gainesville Public Library Director said...

    How come I can't find any new information on this crisis? 10 MILLION people facing starvation and the most recent news article is from Aljezeera! This is the most up to date thing I can find, and it's dated September! I am searching November 23, 2010!!! What is going on??  


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