Today the world' Sahel' is a synonym for desert.
SV & GV Dead cattle surrounded by vultures (2 shots)
CU PULL BACK TO GV Skeletons of dead cattle on desert ground
GV Mirage in desert
GV & SV Cattle herd (2 shots)
GV & CU & SV Bullocks being harnessed to plough (3 shots)
SV & GV Cattle leading plough with man walking behind (2 shots)
SV PAN Woman drawing water from well (2 shots)
CU & GVs Man drawing water from well and pouring it into irrigation pool (3 shots)
TOP VIEW New well being dug
SCU & GV European and African constructing side of well (4 shots)
TOP VIEW Completed well holding water
SV & SCU Man building irrigation channel (4 shots)
SV & GV Women hoeing crops (3 shots)
SV ZOOM SCU Man digging up potato
GV Windbreaks for young palm trees
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Today the world' Sahel' is a synonym for desert. From 1969 to 1974 a disastrous drought hit the region which was too poor to ride out the years without rain. The cost was high; one hundred thousand people died the ecological balance was upset, and the Sahel began to merge with the Sahara desert. Now, six years after the drought ended,there still remains much to be done to help the people of the region prepare for the next drought cycle and to repair the ravages of the last. The Sahel Club is an association of those countries which together make up the Sahel region including Chad, Niger, Mali and Senegal, and others who are interested in aiding the area. The Club is opening a new chapter in the history of co-operation between developed and underdeveloped world.
SYNOPSIS: Before the drought cattle represented an important part of the food supply of the Sahel. Before the drought some of the livestock was exported to central and west Africa. But as the size of the herds increased, over-grazing caused an ecological imbalance. Drought thinned out the herds and now cattle breeding methods had to be modified to avoid future over-grazing. To boost cattle production, water and grazing resources must be better organised and the farmers' nomadic existance changed to avoid drying up the wells.
Farmers in the Sahel are concentrating more on agricultural planning and productivity by adopting new farming methods. Animal-drawn ploughing has enabled farmers to triple their crop output. Animal power also eliminates much of the back-breaking work of water pumping and carrying--traditionally a job for women in this region. Craftsmen are learning to make equipment and tools for ploughing, providing much-needed employment for the local population.
During the drought thousands of long established wells dried up, despite emergency measures taken to deepen them. The old wells were also a source of diseases such as malaria and polio because the water was frequently polluted. Now foreign technicians have begun to train the local people in the construction of modern, concrete wells. They new wells are also less prone to accidents such as rock falls and cave-ins.
The construction of new wells is made difficult by the high cost of transporting the necessary building material. Most of the Sahel is hundreds of miles from any seaport. Yet given projected population increases, over sixty thousand more wells must be built by 1990.
If the Sahel is to become self-sufficient in food by the end of the century as the Sahel Club plans, crop production increases are essential. Major irrigation projects must be financed and staff trained to supervise the local population in irrigation techniques. At village level, the wells themselves can allow small farmers to irrigates their vegetable gardens in the dry protection of crops and vegetables as they grow is another concern in the area. Between the time crops are planted and harvested losses average twenty-five per cent. palm trees are vital in halting the desert's advance a but were hard-hit by the drought, and by parasites. The Sahel Club is importing insects from Iraq to be used against the pests.