The last time I visited Koma Bangou, Niger, was two years ago. Back then, I thought it was one of the poorest and most desperate places I had ever seen.
Koma Bangou is a mining area — very hot, dry, and with poor access to drinking water. The community is made up of people who migrate from all over Niger and neighboring countries.
They are desperately poor, trying to make a living from what is, in effect, a non-productive mine. I am glad for the opportunity to go back to Koma Bangou, but very nervous at the same time. I am worried about what we will find, given the current drought and food crisis.
On the road to Koma Bangou, all the earth is orange — a really deep terracotta orange. The trees are very sparse, and as we get closer to Koma Bangou, the orange, sandy earth gives way to very rocky soil.
We arrive at the healthcare center in Koma Bangou; it’s time to start working. The community volunteers and health workers trained by World Vision were in full swing when we arrived, already weighing and assessing the children and babies for malnutrition.
I start to photograph the babies, and I feel my stomach turn over every time I hold the camera up and see another skinny body in front of me. It seems like baby after baby is suffering from severe malnutrition.
The day we spent in Koma Bangou, 13 new cases of acute severe malnutrition were identified — bringing the current total of severe cases in this one healthcare center to 53 in just three weeks. I am told by health staff at the center that last year, there were just 22 severe malnutrition cases for the entire year. The comparison is startling.
>> Please keep the children and families of Niger in prayer as they cope with a massive food crisis fueled by severe drought. Pray for World Vision’s efforts to bring relief and comfort to those who are gravely suffering.
>> Contact your members of Congress. Ask them to support the Global Food Security Act, which would make a significant contribution toward reducing hunger by investing in sustainable agriculture and nutrition programs.
>> Donate now to help World Vision deliver relief and support to Niger. Your gift will help provide life-saving food and care to children and families affected by hunger and malnutrition in one of the world’s poorest countries.
>> Sponsor a child in Niger. Your love and support for a boy or girl in need will help provide life-saving essentials that form the foundation of a hopeful future, like nutritious food and clean water.
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