The worst drought of the century is affecting a bolt of Africa south of the Sahara.
SV Birds on parched ground ZOOM TO GV
SV TILT DOWN St Mary's Church Addis Ababa to crowds praying
SV & CU Crowds in prayer (2 shots)
CU Silver Cross carried in front of picture of Virgin Mary
CU His Holiness Abune Tewoflos with Cross PAN TO another priest
GV PAN over crowd (3 shots)
CU Priest PAN TO Virgin Mary portrait
LV ZOOM IN Skinny cattle on parched land
Initials SGM/1838 SGM/1808
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Background: The worst drought of the century is affecting a bolt of Africa south of the Sahara. Leaders of the six French-speaking countries in the region are speaking of a major catastrophe and have called for large scale international help.
In Ethiopia, also hit by the drought, the Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, His Holiness Abune Tewoflos, has led prayers for rain.
The drought follows a climatic freak which has deprived the area of its rainy season. In the six French-speaking states -- Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Upper Volta, Niger and Chad, -- many of the twenty-five million inhabitants are living in parched misery.
Senegal's national Assembly has passed a bill expropriating a day's pay from every wage earner to help peasant victims of the drought. The country will lose fifty per cent of its crop of groundnuts, millet and sorghum according to the government.
In Mali the tax on livestock has been suspended because of the drought.
There has been some small scale international aid to the area but this does very little to compensate for the loss of crops and large numbers of cattle because of the drought. What is needed is rain.
SYNOPSIS: Disconsolate birds stand on the dried bed of an Ethiopian lake round which thirty thousand cattle usually graze.
And at St. Mary's church in Addis Ababa crowds pray for the rain which hasn't come since Christmas. They and millions of others are suffering in the worst drought this century. The drought follows a climatic freak which has deprived a large area of its rainy season. There's been a drastic failure of crops and thousands of cattle. African leaders are speaking of a major catastrophe and want large scale international help.
The Patriarch of the Ethiopian Church, His Holiness Abune Tewoflos, has led prayers for rain in the country, which has a traditional belief in the power of prayer. The call was addressed to people of all religions and there has been a call for an interdenominational day of prayer to follow the prayers of the orthodox church.
In the meantime, people are hoping their prayers will answered.
Outside the cities the effects of the drought are obvious from the state of the cattle and the land. Until rain arrives they, and the people, face a bleak time.