December 22, 2014 17:06 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

  • Google Scrubbing Search Results

    Video What’s the Top 'Trending' Search This Year?

    At the top of Google’s top-trending searches list is Robin Williams, the American comedian and actor who died four months ago. The list also includes the World Cup, Ebola, Malaysia Airlines, ISIS and Flappy Bird. Chances are that more people have heard of the game Angry Birds than Flappy Bird. More

  • Obama College Sexual Assault

    Video How the US Deals with its Sexual Assault Problem

    A new study shows young women ages 18 to 24 are the most common targets of rape and sexual attack. Many Americans are dealing with the problem. They are hearing and reading about the issue, from awareness and activism at colleges to programs to fight it at the highest levels of government. More

  • Video Helping California’s Homeless

    Federal officials believe there are hundreds of thousands of homeless people nationwide on any given day. Each one lacks a permanent place to live. Reasons for homelessness can include the high cost of housing, poverty and unemployment. Other reasons are mental health problems and bad luck. More

  • Rice farmers in Cambodia tend to their crops. Some 12% of the country's paddy fields are believed to have been destroyed due to the flooding in Southeast Asia.

    Audio Cambodian, Thai Rice Voted Best in the World

    For the third straight year, the World Rice Conference has voted Cambodian rice as the world’s best. This year Cambodia shares the award with Thailand. Cambodia produced just one percent of the world’s rice in 2012. It is trying to increase that amount. The award may help. More

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, and U.S. President Obama participate in a welcome ceremony for President Obama at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

    Audio Is China Starting to Live its Dream?

    Trust in the American dream may be disappearing. But halfway around the world, a new dream has been gaining strength -- the Chinese dream. To be exact: President Xi Jinping’s Chinese dream. But, what is the Chinese dream? And how has President Xi started to make his dream for the country a reality? More

Featured Stories

  • Obama National Christmas Tree

    Audio The History of Christmas in America

    In the first half of the 19th century, Christmas was a very different kind of holiday than it is today. People did not have a set way of celebrating. Christmas was not even an official holiday yet. More

  • Video Music Shows in Private Homes Gain Popularity

    Attending a live musical performance, be it in a huge arena or a small cafe, is an exciting experience. But here in the U.S., a very different kind of performance is gaining popularity: house concerts. “There's just a totally unique experience as opposed to playing like a coffee shop or a bar." More

  • Lee Surrenders to Grant at Appomatox

    Audio Southern General Robert E. Lee Surrenders at Appomattox

    General Robert E. Lee’s military skill and intelligence helped extend the war between the states. But even his skill could not save the South from the industrial power of the North and its mighty armies -- armies that were better-fed and better-equipped. On Sunday, August 9, Lee surrendered. More

  • Uganda Playground for Disabled Children

    Audio Helping Uganda’s Disabled Children Play

    You may think that all children have freedom to play. But for children who look differently from others or have physical disabilities, the idea of play can seem far away. An organization in Uganda is seeking to change that. Read on to learn words needed to talk about this sometimes difficult topic. More

  • A microneedle used to inject glaucoma medications into the eye is shown next to a liquid drop from a conventional eye dropper. (Georgia Tech Photo: Gary Meek

    Audio Tiny Needles Treat Eye Disease

    Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness around the world. In the United States, more than two million people suffer from the disease. Now, researchers are developing very small needles that may offer a more effective and painless treatment for glaucoma and other eye diseases. More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner BlogConfessions of an English Learner Blog

Tell us About Our Programs