Mariama Amadou’s five-year-old son died of starvation in March. Now her ten-month-old daughter Salamou is suffering from severe malnutrition. More than one million children in West Africa are in danger of urgent malnutrition.
Salamou is laying quietly in her mother’s arms. Her movements are listless and her eyes apathetic. The black eyes seem way too big for her little face.
Salamou’s weight is three kilos, but should according to her age be at least 10 kilos. She is severely malnourished. Mariama has walked five kilometers to take her daughter to a healthcare clinic for malnourished children in the poor Dosso-region in Niger.
“I have come here today because I have heard there will be food for the children. It is hard for me to see my children like this, it makes me very sad,” Mariana says. “The drought is worse this year, both me and my children are losing weight. My stomach hurts and I feel very bloated.”
Mariama lost her son, but hopes the clinic can save her little daughter. At the clinic the children are weighed by volunteers from the national Red Cross society to establish just how malnourished they are. They also help to pass out food and medicine for the children in the need of help.
Today Mariama also brings her son. He is malnourished, but not yet in an urgent state like his little sister.
“I see it is helping his condition to come here. He started gaining weight and his energy level is rising,” Mariama says. Without it she would lose all hope.
Normally Mariama and her children can eat when they are hungry, but the drought has forced them to reduce their daily meals. Now they eat only eat twice a day.
“This year the drought is worse than last year due to the more severe lack of food,” she says. “We only have corn, so that’s what we eat day and night. I have no job, neither has my husband, we only have some goats to sell.”
“My life is not good right now, because when we don’t eat, we cannot be happy. My biggest hope is to keep my children and I healthy and nourished.”
By Julie Lorenzen in Niger