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In Africa, One Family’s Struggle With the Global Food Crisis
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, July 20, 2008; 6:23 PM
LOUDA, Burkina Faso — All day, Ruth Bamogo hacked at the ground with
an iron hoe, trying to coax sorghum out of the hard, red dirt.
Finally exhausted, with the temperature still over 90 degrees in the
dying afternoon light, Bamogo strapped her 4-year-old son onto her back
with a bright pink cloth and started the one-mile walk home.
But at the edge of the field, she suddenly started grabbing at
low-hanging tree leaves. She stripped branches bare, collecting the
coarse leaves with her bare hands.
A year ago, this tree was shade. But now, with even basic foods
suddenly too expensive to feed her six children, it is food. The leaves
taste awful, she said, but they are free — one small advantage of
living in the countryside.
Bamogo carried the leaves home on foot; her husband rode a bike.
She looked older than her 42 years. Her face and arms seemed far too
thin; she said she’s lost 10 to 20 pounds in the last year, because
there isn’t enough food for everyone, and she eats last.
“I don’t want my children to cry,” she said. “So I take care of them first.”
Women are suffering disproportionately in the world’s worst food
crisis in a generation, according to aid workers studying impacts in
In this poor West African nation, as in much of the
developing world, women are responsible for feeding their families.
They grow, buy and cook food. But at mealtime, men and children eat
first and women eat whatever is left.
But when food suddenly becomes more expensive and scarcer, there is
less leftover. And aid workers said they are seeing that women are the
first to suffer.
Life for women in the capital, Ouagadougou, is harsher lately
because all their food comes from markets, where prices have risen
sharply. But in rural villages like this one, 60 miles north in the
countryside, the problem is also acute, but different.
Here, there are virtually no jobs, and women must feed their families — and themselves — with whatever the ground gives them.
Read the rest of the article here. There are some interesting details in the written version that aren’t in the video.