West Africa is a land that was once home to many great empires, founded on fertile soil, but these days West African farmers struggle to keep their crops alive.
The people in Baaba Maal’s community of Sahel have suffered silently for several years during catastrophic drought, unaware that the cause of the rivers drying up is due to Climate Change and not their own failing.
“It was not always like this. I grew up in Senegal. Farmers there would sing about the land, the weather, and the seasons. When the rains came, we all moved towards high ground to plant millet. When the waters receded, we would go back down the riverbanks to grow vegetables.”
Baaba Maal is one of a number of farmers adopting new agricultural techniques and irrigation systems to survive the dramatic changes to his home environment. He is now a Global Ambassador for Oxfam, educating farmers and advocating on their behalf by urging his government and international community to act on Climate Change. He said leading up to the recent United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change this month, “We did nothing to cause the Earth’s temperature to rise. Why should our people pay with our suffering for the actions of others?”
He goes on to explain that during a visit to a village in the Sahel region of Mauritania with Oxfam in 2012 he witnessed the destruction of the major drought and subsequent food crisis: “Stalks of corn were brown and withered, and the very ground itself was cracking from the dryness. A whole harvest had been lost.”
“Africa is a rich and wealthy continent. We have wide, open fields and strong rivers. Our population is young and full of energy. We can offer a lot to the rest of the world, if only the world offers us the help we need.”
You can help the people of West Africa through Oxfam’s West Africa Food Crisis Appeal at www.oxfam.org.nz or by calling 0800 600 700