“Hunger is the biggest sickness you can have,” said Yapoa Lale, a mother of four from Niger. In Africa’s Sahel region, 18 million people are suffering from hunger and severe malnutrition. Drought and erratic rains caused the majority of crops to fail, leaving food storage bins empty and families without food until the next harvest.

Presbyterian World Service & Development is working in partnership with Canadian Foodgrains Bank to bring urgently needed relief to those hit hardest by hunger and drought. To date $10 million has been committed by CFGB to projects in Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso, reaching 288,000 people.

Since the emergency appeal for the Sahel was issued, Presbyterians have responded with overwhelming generosity. At the time this issue was written, Presbyterians have raised over $95,000, with more coming in. The Government of Canada’s Sahel Crisis Matching Fund, which matched donations from August 7 to September 30, is helping to multiply relief efforts.

Food assistance is meeting immediate food needs, while livelihood interventions, such as seed distributions and nutrition training, are helping to improve the capacity of communities to cope with future droughts and food shortages.

Ramatou’s Story

“I am thanking God and thanking you for the help,” says Ramatou, a widow and mother of twelve, with a wide smile. She just received her second monthly ration of millet, black-eyed peas and oil through a food assistance program helping vulnerable families in the Madaoua region of Niger.

Prior to receiving food distributions, Ramatou struggled to provide food for her family. “After we ran out of food, I started begging,” she says. “I would go from house to house in the village asking for help. But there was nothing left in the village.”

Desperate to fill her children’s stomachs, she resorted to gathering leaves, which she would bring home, soak, and then boil for food. Ramatou also rationed the food they did have to make it last longer. She would boil and water down millet so the family could sip at it for days. It was all she could do to fill an empty stomach.

The food Ramatou received will last her family for one month and they are already feeling the positive impacts of receiving desperately needed food.

“Before I was always stressed. I was always looking for food. I couldn’t bathe or take care of my children,” she says. Ramatou says her children are now getting stronger.

“Before we had food, the children could only lie down. They had no energy. But now they can play again.”

Thank you for your generosity and ongoing support!