March 01, 2015 04:25 UTC

Science & Technology

Aid Workers Seek to Build 'Resilience' in Sahel

Read, listen and learn English with this story. Double-click on any word to find the definition in the Merriam-Webster Learner's Dictionary.

In this Tuesday, May 1, 2012 photo, Maryam Sy comforts her 2-year-old son Aliou Seyni Diallo, the youngest of nine, after a neighbor gave him dry couscous to stop him from crying with hunger, in the village of Goudoude Diobe, in the Matam region of northeIn this Tuesday, May 1, 2012 photo, Maryam Sy comforts her 2-year-old son Aliou Seyni Diallo, the youngest of nine, after a neighbor gave him dry couscous to stop him from crying with hunger, in the village of Goudoude Diobe, in the Matam region of northe
x
In this Tuesday, May 1, 2012 photo, Maryam Sy comforts her 2-year-old son Aliou Seyni Diallo, the youngest of nine, after a neighbor gave him dry couscous to stop him from crying with hunger, in the village of Goudoude Diobe, in the Matam region of northe
In this Tuesday, May 1, 2012 photo, Maryam Sy comforts her 2-year-old son Aliou Seyni Diallo, the youngest of nine, after a neighbor gave him dry couscous to stop him from crying with hunger, in the village of Goudoude Diobe, in the Matam region of northe

Multimedia

Play or download an MP3 of this story
From VOA Learning English, this is the Agriculture Report in Special English.
 
In Africa, severe food shortages have affected eighteen million people in nine Sahel countries this year. This was the third severe food crisis in four years in the area bordering the Sahara. How can the Sahel break its cycle of food insecurity? Aid workers are asking that question as this year's emergency eases. David Gressly is the United Nations regional humanitarian coordinator for the Sahel.
 
"If we don't seize the opportunity in two thousand thirteen, there's a good chance that this whole issue will be forgotten until the next drought, and then we'll be asking ourselves the same set of questions."
 
Mr. Gressly says during a crisis, families eat just one or two meals a day, take their children out of school, sell their animals and go into debt. These actions put them at greater risk in a future crisis. In fact, many of the families affected by this year's food crisis had yet to recover from the earlier ones.
 
Aid agencies sent food and emergency assistance. They supplied farmers with drought-resistant seeds, improved fertilizers and medicine for livestock. Aid groups also worked to improve irrigation systems and grain storage. These measures dealt with short-term needs, but David Gressly says the work should not stop when the crisis eases.  
 
"And I think now there's an understanding [of the need for] a very targeted program looking at these eighteen million people affected this year, working with them to find ways so that they don't have to make the kinds of decisions to survive in a crisis of a drought, for example, that compromises their long-term future."
 
Aid groups say they are working to build the "resilience" of communities, to make them stronger during a crisis. David Gressly says this means taking steps like reducing child malnutrition and changing cultural practices that may be harmful.
 
For example, he says there is a practice in many communities across the Sahel to give water to babies under six months of age because of the heat. But the water is often dirty and makes the children sick. This starts a cycle toward severe malnutrition. It can be prevented by feeding babies only breast milk.
 
This year's food crisis followed unpredictable and insufficient rains. High food prices only made the situation worse. David Gressly says aid agencies in Chad have been building dams to store water during the rainy season. This water can later be used to irrigate fields.
 
Al Hassan Cisse from the British aid group Oxfam says building the resilience of poor people also means investing in food reserves and social protections like health care. Aid groups say prevention costs less than treatment.
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Shige from: Japan
12/03/2012 1:40 AM
I think building dam is very important. Sufficient water is needed to grow grains. And after cleaning the water, we can drink it as a drinking water.


by: Leo from: Colombia
11/29/2012 3:46 AM
That is very true, is less expensive and more beneficial to prevent than to cure, hopefully they'll be better prepared for the next drought.
VOA, thanks for your contribution, for spreading knowledge, you are doing your part to make of this world a better place!


by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
11/28/2012 5:24 AM
This year's drought is extremely severe to have even the U.S. farmers depend on bailout from the government. It cannot be helped for aid groups offering emergent aids to Sahel countries. But for a long perspective, it's true how the style of international aid for developing countries should be to help them become economically independent.

It's sure short-term aid like emergent, temporaly supply of foods, fertilizers and medicne et cetera are not enough. Yet capital investment in for example irrigation systems and dams also might not be almighty because these equipments might not match the local crimate, soil, and cultural conditions. I've heard, eventhough modern machines are equiped, they are sometimes left alone because people cannot handle them.

I agree it's a difficult conduct to aid someone. I suppose moral supports encouraging and educating them would work well for their growing independence as well as, or perhaps more than a material aid.


by: Marcone Moreira from: Brazil
11/27/2012 4:34 PM
Very good! www.tmdturismo.com.br

Learn with The News

  • Samantha Elauf, who was denied a sales job at an Abercrombie Kids store in Tulsa in 2008, is pictured at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, Feb. 25, 2015.

    Video Muslim Hijab: Dress Code or Discrimination?

    A closely watched case before the Supreme Court could have major results for religious rights in the workplace. It involves the clothing stores Abercrombie & Fitch and a young Muslim woman. She wore a Muslim headcovering, called a hijab, when seeking employment with the company. More

  • Video Putin: The ‘Lonely’ Leader Working to Rebuild Russian Power

    Experts say Russian President Vladimir Putin is a product of the collapse of the Soviet Union. They say he believes he is the only person who can lead the Russian nation and re-establish it as a world power. But some observers say he appears to be a lonely and unhappy man. More

  • FILE - In this undated file image posted on Monday, June 30, 2014, by the Raqqa Media Center of the Islamic State group, a Syrian opposition group, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, fighters from the al-Qaida-linked Islami

    Audio Growing Support in US for Campaign Against Islamic State

    The Pew Research Center has released a new public opinion survey. It shows a growing number of Americans support the military campaign against the group known as Islamic State. Americans also increasingly support the idea of sending U.S. ground troops to fight the group in Iraq and Syria. More

  • Video US West Coast Ports Working Again

    A labor dispute had slowed operations at more than 29 ports on the West Coast of the United States. Negotiators reached a deal that permitted work to restart. But, they are still working on details of the agreement. The work stoppage has slowed U.S. trade with Asian countries. More

  • lahore literary festival

    Video Pakistan Literary Festival Stands Up to Violence

    The Pakistani city of Lahore recently held a three-day literary festival. The event looked a lot like literary festivals in many other cities. But for some Pakistanis, its importance went beyond works of poetry and prose. For them, the show symbolized a fight against violent extremism. More

Featured Stories

  • Kerry and Declan Reichs (Courtesy Photo)

    Video Choosing to Be a Single Mother

    U.S. officials say birth rates for unmarried women over age 40 have been rising in recent years. In fact, the rate in 2012 was almost 30 percent higher than just five years earlier. There are single mothers by choice. They are generally older, successful, well-educated, and financially secure. More

  • Audio Young Writer’s Plays Explore Race, Identity in America

    Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' latest play 'An Octoroon,' is showing at a theater in New York City. It is based on a 19th Century work by Dion Boucicault. It tells about a white man who falls in love with a woman who is part black. At the time, mixed race marriage was banned in southern US states. More

  • Audio Understanding the Misunderstood Teenage Brain

    A common battle cry of teenagers to adults is, "You just don't understand me!" Well, they might be right. A brain scientist (neuroscientist) and mother to two teenagers says the teenage brain is quite different from the adult brain. She "debunks," or clears up three common myths about teenagers. More

  • Audio Politics Share the Stage at the Oscars

    Racial equality was not the only political or disputed issue performers discussed last night. Some used their acceptances speeches to talk about immigration, women’s rights, illness, suicide and government surveillance. And the movie of an American sniper continues to fuel the debate. More

  • Video Technology Increases Chances of Surviving Aneurym

    Each year, half a million people die from brain aneurysms, -- when a blood vessel burst in the brain. For survivors, physical disabilities are often servere. They may include memory problems, loss of balance, trouble speaking and even blindness. But new technologies are increasing survival rates. More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner blog
Confessions of an English Learner blog

 

 

 

Tell us About Our Programs