As we prepare for Thanksgiving and Christmas, thousands starve to death
Burkino Faso. A country on the southern edge of the Sahara. Every year, the harvest defines the dividing line between life and death. This year, as we buy our turkeys and plan the Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts, hundreds of thousands of people in North Africa will spend the next three months trying to find a scrap to eat.
Poor rains and the worst locust plague for the last 15 years have rendered this area barren, yet again. In northern Burkina Faso, up to 90% of the crop has failed.
This is not a question of finding something else to eat. It is a question of finding something to put on the table for the family to survive.
Northern Burkina Faso has seen almost all of its cereal production wiped out by the clouds of locusts, which have infested over 100,000 hectares of arable land in this already struggling country.
The province of Oudalan registered a drop of 90%, Seno a drop of 78% and Soum, a drop of 74%. According to the Agriculture Ministry of Burkina Faso, in terms of quantity, the province of Oudalan produced 58, 419 tonnes of cereals last year. This year, the figure will be, at best, 5, 642 tonnes.
This means that the basic needs of the local population in northern Burkina Faso, together with other communities in neighbouring countries, will not be met by the harvest. These people will spend this season looking for something to feed their children, to keep their families alive.
The abominable deficit in the cereal crop also affects the livestock farmers, who prefer to sell their animals cheaply than to see them starve to death.
As we tuck in to our feasts as the year ends, let us spare a thought for those who would welcome a square meal on the table every day for their children.