Mauritania: Children in rural areas suffer from hunger crisis

As adults reflect on the historic nature of the intense drought and food shortages in this part of Africa, children focus on how the emergency continues to cause extreme hardship in their own lives.

Story and photos by Brahim Sidi Baba, World Vision Mauritania.
Published August 8, 2012 at 12:00am PDT

“I have not seen a crisis like the one we have been going through this year,” says Gori Ngoko, an elderly chief of a village in Mauritania’s Kankossa district.

“Crises we went through [before] were either characterized by a lack of food for humans or pasture for animals. This year, the crisis is characterized by a severe lack of both.”

Ngoko adds that there was almost no rain over the past year. “My son and grandson have been in Mali for six months, looking for pasture for our animals,” he says.

Surviving with World Vision’s help

This means that Ngoko’s family lost their main sources of provision: his son, and the family’s cows.

“We have been almost completely relying on vouchers provided by World Vision in Kankossa,” Ngoko adds.

He insists on expressing his full gratitude to World Vision for helping his village. Remarkably, his face is full of happiness and joy, despite his circumstances. He explains how he gathered his big family to share with them the good news of being approved to benefit the from the voucher distribution in the area.

Gori Ngoko, an elderly village chief, says he has never experienced a food crisis like the current one.In collaboration with the World Food Program and USAID, World Vision launched assistance programs in the region to help those who are in greatest need.

“Two distributions of vouchers took place in Kankossa, and other distributions have been taking place now in Barkeol,” says Hamidou Diallo, World Vision’s humanitarian and emergency affairs national coordinator.

Children share their hardships

As is usually the case, children are likely to be the most affected by the crisis. Three children from two small villages in Kankossa expressed their feelings and opinions about the hard situation they are going through.

“Before this crisis, we had good-quality cereals and rice, thanks to our small farm,” says Ramata, a 14-year-old girl from the village of Mbeighir. “Now, my parents have to seek cereal from Mali. There is no milk as well, since our cows are not around anymore.”

Ramata’s friend, Penda, echoes these sentiments. “We need all kinds of nutritious food, especially rice, cereals, and milk. We need also equipment to help us in agriculture,” says Penda.

‘People in my village have nothing to eat’

Children seem fully aware of the depth of the crisis here. Many of their comments imply a loss of the joy and innocence of childhood at the hands of the emergency.

Abdoullay speaks candidly about the magnitude of his troubles.Abdoullay, a 15-year-old boy from the village of Loudey, speaks like someone much older.

“My people would not have to go far looking for pasture for their animals,” he says. “This year, they are obliged to do so, since there is no pasture in our area. All the people in my village have nothing to eat. We need a lot of rice, cereals, and dried milk. I go to school every day thinking of this hard situation.”

The villages of Mbeighir and Loudey are in the district of Kankossa. World Vision’s development program in the district covers 139 villages in the area, and efforts there are part of our broader response to the ongoing drought and hunger crisis across the Sahel region of Africa.

Learn more

Read another article about how a World Vision cereal bank initiative is helping families survive food shortages in neighboring Mali.

Three ways you can help

As the drought and hunger crisis continues to threaten lives in Mauritania and across the Sahel region, please pray for God’s protection and provision for vulnerable children like Ramata, Penda, Abdoullay, and others. Pray for the return of rains and for a productive harvest in the year ahead.

Make a one-time donation to help provide life-saving food and care to children suffering from hunger in places like Mauritania. Your gift will help World Vision deliver interventions like emergency food aid, clean water, agricultural support, nutritional guidance, and more in areas where the need is great.

Give monthly to provide support for hungry children around the world. Your monthly donation will help us bring assistance to places where hunger and food shortages cause suffering, like the Sahel region of Africa.