Peter Biro is a writer and photographer for the International Rescue Committee. He reports on refugee and humanitarian issues in Southeast/Central Asia and Africa.
A week after Mohammed was born, he was abandoned by his parents and left in the care of an aunt who was already struggling to raise nine children.
“Milk is expensive and it is very hard to feed them all,” the aunt, Assetou Diallo, said as she sat in front of her home, a one-room shack next to a busy dirt road on the outskirts of the Malian capital of Bamako.
This year has been particularly difficult, the 35-year-old said. The drought killed the family’s modest crops, grown in a small garden nest to the house, and the price of food has skyrocketed.
In June, Mohammed and Assetou’s youngest daughter Mariam, began showing signs of severe malnutrition. Although he was 18 months old, Mohammed weighed a mere 12 pounds—less than half of what a healthy baby boy his age should weigh.
The children were brought to an International Rescue Committee-supported health clinic where they were immediately placed on an emergency feeding program consisting of milk and peanut paste fortified with minerals and vitamins. Mohammed and Mariam were also treated for malaria and pneumonia. After two month’s treatment, the children gained 4.5 pounds.
“Their lives were in real danger,” said the IRC’s Dr. Abdourhamane Soumana, who helped treat the children. “Severe malnutrition of this kind can also severely affect a child's intellectual development.”
Millions of children in Mali and the Sahel region of West Africa are believed to be physically and intellectually stunted as a result of poor diet and malnutrition over many years.
Overall, the United Nations estimates that some 18 million people in the Sahel do not get enough to eat on a daily basis, a situation that has been exacerbated by political insecurity and three severe droughts in the region since 2005.
Assetou Diallo has now learned to identify early signs of malnutrition. She feeds her youngest children fortified peanut paste and tries as best she can to give them vegetables. But the root problem is, as it often is, poverty. Assetou’s husband is an unemployed carpenter and the family lives on handouts from caring neighbors.
“If I get a little bit of money I buy charcoal that I then resell in the market,” she says. “But it’s never enough.”
Tasha Gill, who runs the IRC’s programs in Mali, says that initiatives like the health clinic’s feeding program can save lives on a short term emergency basis but that they need to be complemented by long-term sustained efforts.
“Looking to the future we are planning programs that will help families to survive the immediate crisis but also better weather future emergencies,” she said. “Programs that help people start businesses and teach economic skills are essential so that parents don’t have to choose between food, school and health care, but can provide the basics for their children to grow in safety and dignity.”
Read - World Food Day: Crisis in Mali and Easy ways to help
On World Food Day, people are coming together from all over the globe to end hunger. Take action in your community and around the world. by visiting WorldFoodDayUSA.org and Facebook to see what's happening near you.
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UNFORTUNATELY THESE ARE THE PEOPLE WITHOUT ENOUGH FOOD AND THE ONES THAT WILL BREED THE MOST...BECAUSE THE CYCLE OF BEING POOR IS AMAZINGLY A DISGRACE...
Charities and NGO's killed off African farming and small business, because they give away food and necessities for free. That makes it extremely difficult to farm and try to sell your food, or to start a retail shop that provides basics. No businesses = no jobs = continued poverty.
starving children should be of no concern.
As a owner and chef of a resturant,I've seen that you need to PAY for your food.NO free handouts.
These hungry people should learn to farm or fish,or get a job and buy some yummy food.Then there would be no hunger.I'd be hungry too if I just sat around all day on the ground like these 'people'.But I go out and get myself some food.These 'people' should do the same.
IF YOU HAD READ THE ARTICLE, YOU WOULD HAVE FOUND OUT THAT THEY HAD A "DROUGHT" THAT IS WHY THEY DID NOT HAVE CROPS" YOU DISGUST ME, LET'S HOPE YOU DON'T FIND YOURSELF WITHOUT A JOB!!! YOU MAY BE SITTING HIGH NOW, BUT YOU BETTER PRAY YOU DON'T FALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Pretty much everyone has learned to ignore this troll. Please do not feed it.
so u think they don't want to work? Very funny
u should find out the truth
The last thing they need is more food. That will only encourage them to have more children. Rats will have more offspring if there is abundant food. They need some kind of birth control or rather they should be sterilized. That is a win win solution for everyone.
I remember being in Africa and learning quickly not to guess a child's age. It is weird to look at somebody and think they are 12, but find out they are really 17 because malnutrition stunted their growth.
If we really want to stop malnutrition better farming practices need to be TAUGHT to the 3rd world. Drip irrigation, crop rotations, and other techniques would improve the ability to grow food where it is needed most.
well i think that black people should unite together and become one take apart of them show each other what we can do for each and every person i'm talking about getting out eduacation,personality,food,and most of all care and without care there would be no love .that is why we exsit on this plant we can unite with who we are i think that all COLORS should come together as one in one big community CELEBRATION like ordinary people
P.S I REPERCENT 6TH GRADE MIDDLE SCHOOL OF DYSART ELEMENTARY SCHOOL.
Does the woman and others like her have access to birth control? I don't understand why women keep having children when they don't have the means to provide the basic necessities of life. We keep sending food and clothing to these improverished nations when perhaps we should be sending birth control to them instead.
Most likely not. Women in 3rd world countries often don't have access to, or even know about, birth control. The concept of family planning is foreign to them. Further, their husbands may not give them any choice.
Giving her birth control now doesn't solve the problem of the existing children, one of whom is a niece.
The women have no choice in a muslim third world culture.
It's not always that simple. Children are like a retirement plan in many 3rd world countries. The more children that I have, the more that are likely to survive (just playing the odds), which leaves more people people able to care for me in my old age.
We have seen the future, and it is us. The proposals of certain politicians, if enacted, ensure that women in the United States will find contraception difficult or expensive to come by. If you work for certain companies or corporations or entities, you might find that your insurance doesn't help.
So when we ask why they live that way, remember that there is a very active force(s) here working to duplicate that lot for women.
Thank God somebody does have children and they don't dispose of them like they are trash. "DO NOT SPITE CHILDREN AND OLDER PEOPLE" You should get a life, you are not sending "SQUAT" We are all brothers and sisters, regardless of race, creed or color. You need to Pray!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I work a regular 9-5 job at a bank. I also work odd jobs every weekend wherever I can find. 60 or more hours a week. And I barely make enough for the basics. I cant afford food after I pay my bills. I get 94 dollars a month in food stamps. Do you think that is enough to feed two people for an entire month?? No. But I make it work. Its sad that even people with jobs that literally work their asses off make less than some people on welfare. Some people dont abuse the system. I have food stamps because I need them. If it was just me I wouldnt care. But I would rather die than to see my son hungry. I really feel for these people. I know the situations are on two complete different sides of the spectrum but I know what it feels like to feel helpless. To look at your child and say "Sorry, dude. I cant buy that." It sucks. And any program that is of benifit to the children should be funded! Children are helpless in the equation. They have no choice and should be protected.
KJM: I think you're doing good. Keep on doing what you are doing.
"HAT'S OFF TO KJM, THE WORLD NEEDS MORE PEOPLE LIKE YOU" MAY GOD CONTINUE TO BLESS YOU AND YOURS AND KEEP YOU IN HIS CARE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
coupons, cheaper grocery stores, and not purchasing items of convenience can stretch a food budget.
sorry this comment was meant for the $30 a week food stamp challenge article.
We have this in America, but it's because welfare sucking minorities feed their kids nothing but happy meals & kool-aid.
go away biitch. your momma in the double wide is calling!
Go and hit the 7/11 with your ebt card parasite.
The majority of welfare recipients are white.
Not if you look at racial percentages.
EID – blacks actually have twice the number of welfare recipients per capita as anyone else which by the way is how you properly evaluate the numbers. You may not know what per capita means, unfortunately. It means blacks are at least TWICE as likely to be on welfare as any other demographic.
I AM CAUCASIAN AND MIXED, I WORK FOR THE PUBLIC WELFARE, "DON'T GET IT TWISTED, THERE ARE MORE WHITES ON "WELFARE" THAN THERE ARE "BLACKS". "THEY JUST DON'T TALK ABOUT IT"
@Aubrie that sounds sounds like an amazing thing! I would love to see that expand to those area's thatneed it but i worry how they will tend to those animals. I believe they suffer from droubts and famine, how shall they feed and hydrate the animals. It'd be amazing if there was a way to make it work.
Can't remember the name, but there is an organization that with it's fund raising proceeds, purchases livestock animals for poor families.... Chickens, which in turn provide eggs to eat or sell, sheep to provide milk and wool for clothes and sale, goats for milk and cheese, cows, etc. It's a wonderful program. Would love to see it expand and grow and help more people like this to be more self sufficient.
Really, Aubrie? Does this organization also provide feed /water for those livestock animals , fencing to keep them from wandering off and land to graze on etc., ? Alot to be considered here, would be great though.
Actually, Lisa, yes they do. You should try reading up on the organization. http://www.heifer.org
Heifer International does not provide animals that are unsuited to their environment. They provide training along with the animals, and the best part is the passing on the gift. The recipients of Heifer's gifts will in turn pass on offspring of their original cow/ducks/bees/chickens/water buffalo/pig etc to others in need in their community. For a person to go from being without hope to giving hope to another is incredibly empowering. Many of those who have been helped go on to help others far beyond their initial commitment.
It might make more sense to distribute birth control than ducks, cows, and chickens.
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