Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Drought in Chad and Sudan

The referendum in Sudan is getting attention in the media, as it should. What many of us have not grasped is how important developments in Chad are to the course of affairs in Sudan, because of its connection to Darfur, a hinterland to both countries. And both countries are suffering because of the southward advance of the Sahel, creating famine in both countries. AlertNet has an article about how serious it is for the peoples of that region. [Click on the title to link to the source]

Droughts break up our families - Chadian women
15 Nov 2010 17:22:00 GMT
AlertNet Written by: George Fominyen
Ashta Idriss sieves earth from ant hills in Anzarafa.

Women in Chad's semi-arid Sahel belt say recurrent droughts are breaking up their families - and they've had enough.

They want some long-term solutions to the regular food shortages, which are so bad they often have to scavenge in ant hills for food.

When the crops failed this year and severe hunger set in most men in this part of Chad migrated to other towns, especially the capital N'Djamena.

But women I met in two villages, Roumou and Anzarafa, over 500km east of the capital, say they are fed up with always bearing the brunt of these food shortages at home.

"We stayed alone with the little kids and as the crisis deepened we sold everything including our little goats and sheep, loins (lengths of fabric) and kitchen utensils to have money to get some food," Alima Abdoulaye, a mother aged about 50, told me in Roumou.

"It was heartbreaking to see our sons and husbands leave but what could we do?"

At the height of the crisis, between February and June, the women had to go into the bushes to dig up ant hills, which they sieved to collect the grains and seeds stored by the insects.

"We have to set out very early to the places where we can find the ant hills and the time taken to dig enough for a meal means we return very late when the children have gone to sleep without food," said Ashta Idriss, a 50-year-old widowed mother of three.

The women urged the Chadian authorities to take measures to ensure that droughts do not separate families, as has been the case this year.

"If we can end this cycle of repeated hunger crises, if we can just get something to stop it, we, as women, will be very glad," Abdoulaye said.

She would like to see the authorities build wells and irrigation canals to help the villagers farm even when the rainfall is bad.

"All we want is good health, to see our children grow and be successful," said Kaltouma Adam, another mother in her 50s.

"We also want to eat well and be plumper. We are so thin now because we are coming out of long suffering - next time when you come you will not find us like this, by the grace of God," she told me.

See also Hungry Chadians eating ant food after locusts attack crops

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