Photo and Text: Samuel Hauenstein Swan – www.SamBronx-Photo.com
We ask the elder in the villages about his daily routine in the growing season. “my wife and I get up at about five o’clock in the morning,” he begins, and head out right away to the fields, to beat the heat that is building up very quickly. We try to get most of the farm work – which is at that time of the year mostly weeding and ensure the soil is not to compact around the base of the plants, so the rain gets to the roots quickly – before one o’clock n the afternoon.
By the time we reach home, it is nearly two it is we have our first meal.
During the months where we have the most work on the farms, we also have the least reserves in the kitchen. We often have just that lunch meal, and in the evening we make some tea with sugar.
These hunger season meals lack both in quantity and quality. It is often just as much that a headache is going but never as much that we feel full. During this month of the year, it is only porridge we dilute with much water and give a bit of tasing by adding wild leaves and hot spices.
“Hunger in the village and the region has to do with poverty and secondary with rains.” Zara’s neighbours explain: ”the rain permit only one harvest. The better off villages have the low grounds close to the river and with fertile soil to make most of the few spots of rain. The others have the fields that are higher and on slopes where the water runs off, and the most fertile ground is missing. These areas give little and even in good years are sufficient to feed the family. They also have no surplus to bring to the markets and gain cash to purchase food later in the season. Once their stocks are empty Zara, and families like hers must hope for occasional work in exchange for a meal.
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Seasonal hunger in the Sahel has once again escalated into a major food crisis. In Niger, shortfalls in food production, rising food prices and on-going poverty have pushed tens of thousands of families into food insecurity and thousands of children are suffering from severe acute malnutrition. copyright http://www.sambronx-photo.ch Samuel Hauenstein Swan link
By Susana Vera
There’s one thing I always do upon returning from a work trip. As soon as I leave my camera bag and suitcase on the floor I jump into the shower. I like having the water run down my face for a few minutes. I find it both relaxing and cleansing.
I never think much about how much water I’m using, I just tell myself that I “need” it, that I have a “right” to indulge after a long journey. I play around with the water temperature until I get it to that state where it’s neither too hot, nor too cold. After I finish, I head to the kitchen and make myself some food. That’s the same thing I did two days ago when I returned from Mauritania. But contrary to my habit in theses circumstances, I took a navy shower. I let the water run down my body just long enough to rinse the shampoo and soap off. The whole process took less than two minutes. Ten days in drought-stricken Mauritania photographing people rationing every bit of this precious and scarce resource are responsible for that change of heart.
Finding water and food to feed their families are the two main concerns of the population in Mauritania’s southern Gorgol region. What used to be the breadbasket of the country has, since the 1970′s, been significantly affected by climate change, causing a decrease in agriculture and the intensification of desertification. This has resulted in the exodus of many men from their villages to urban areas or even abroad to find jobs to support their families.
Women, the elderly and children have been left behind to work their land and care for their livestock. But that’s a very difficult mission when water supplies are running low due to severe rainfall deficit. If it does not rain soon, most crops and animal pasture will be lost and access to food for poorer families will become almost impossible.
After five years I revisited Tsare and her family in her village Guidan Koura central Niger. On assignment for Action Against Hunger. She leads a household of 9 people; I say she as her husband is absent for most of the year returning only for brief periods of a months or two to help with the planting.
Stocks have lasted only a month after the rains failed last year. The lean season has begun early and their meals are reduced drastically. In front of them is laid out what is their meal for the day. It is a bowl of collected wild leaves, she cooks with water, oil, groundnut cubes, salt, piripiri and Maggi. For the past three and the coming four months this was and will be their stable once a day. The children get some times some millet porridge.
More to follow soon follow my website: www.sambronx-photo.ch