Countries in Africa's Sahel region, which suffered drought and famine in the late 1960's and early 1970's, are again predicting poor harvests due to lack of rainfall.
SV AND MV: arid land and cracked earth (2 shots)
GV: nomadic campsite with women and children walking about (2 shots)
SV: nomad walking across drought-stricken land (2 shots)
SV PAN FROM: river TO irrigation project with greenery.
GV: waterpump in operation PAN ALONG irrigation pipe across arid land.
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Background: Countries in Africa's Sahel region, which suffered drought and famine in the late 1960's and early 1970's, are again predicting poor harvests due to lack of rainfall. In northern Senegal, officials have described the situation as almost as bad as it was in 1973 -- the worst year on record. Insufficient and erratic rains have again caused widespread food shortages for the region's nomadic inhabitants.
SYNOPSIS: The Food and Agricultural Organisation, which has monitored Sahel rainfall patterns since the height of the last drought, have reported that this summer's monsoon was weak and irregular. As a result the land lies parched and barren, crops and livestock suffer and the area's nomadic inhabitants are faced with a possible famine. Officials in Dakar estimate that 180,000 tonnes of emergency food aid needs to be pumped into the region, where average life expectancy is only 37 years. And the International organisation, Friends of the Sahel, have pushed through a five-year assistance programme to help the region. They stressed that only with aid of this sort can they prevent a repeat of the situation in the early 1970's, when thousands perished.
An additional problem this year is the water level in the river Senegal. Normally it rises over its banks and floods the surrounding fields, which are then planted with wheat, millet and other crops.
This year however, the poor monsoon has prevented this from happening, and irrigation systems have been set up to provide some chance of a reasonable harvest. It is on the success of projects like this that the lives of the nomads ultimately depend.