Sorhow Mohamed lives with her husband and seven children in Tin Akoff, a village in the north of Burkina Faso, which has been hit hard by drought.
Usually the family grows enough millet and sorghum to feed themselves, but inadequate rainfall caused their last harvest to fail. Sorhow said: “Last year the crop was good, and we put it in the granary. The stocks lasted us through to the next harvest. But this year the harvest was so poor, we got zero. We just picked the grass for fodder for our goats and sheep.”
The only income the family has is from the donuts Sorhow sells in the market every Wednesday, which she uses to supplement her family’s staple diet of cereal crops. But it is nowhere near enough to sustain her family without the harvest.
The challenge to find food
“The most difficult thing in my life is how to feed my family. Hunger is hard to deal with,” Sorhow says.
“I get water lilies and baobab leaves and boil them to make a sauce. There’s also another wild food I find called ‘fonio’, a type of grass.”
As well as using her own initiative Sorhow reaches out to family and community members for support. “In the village there are always people who are struggling. You always know someone who doesn’t have much and we help each other out when we can,” she says. “But now it is getting difficult for everyone. In 2004 there was a huge cricket infestation and the situation was bad – but this is the worst year I’ve seen. Normally we can make it okay till May, but we’ve been struggling for several months now.”
Red Cross support
“We’ve been lucky to be selected by the Red Cross to receive these food coupons,” Sorhow says.
The Red Cross food vouchers will help provide enough rice, oil, salt and sugar to feed Sorhow’s family for a month.
Sorhow dreams of self-sufficiency again, her one hope for the future being a good harvest. But for now outside help is vital to keep the large family healthy, particularly the young children, and they will need ongoing support till the next harvest around October.
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