'Niger drought made me a beggar'


Hadja, like more than half the population of Niger, has no food reserves left because of a prolonged drought. UK charity Save the Children warns some 400,000 children are at risk of severe malnutrition.

After her crops failed, Hadja left her village for the southern town of Maradi with some of her grandchildren.


I look after eight children, four of them are with me now in Maradi, the four older ones are back home in Mai Jangero.

I've had to come to town because we don't have any food.

The harvest only lasted four or five months.

We've had to buy food since then.

I had to take the children out of school.

We don't have enough money for food so I can't afford to send them to school.

All of us here [indicating all the women she's sitting with] are begging.

We have many bad years.

But this year is a really bad year because there are some people who didn't harvest anything.

Whenever there is a bad year, we have to come to town and beg.

The last harvest was really bad. If we have a good year we can produce 80 bots (about 1,000kg).

This year we only produced 15 bots.

Our only hope is to come to the town to beg for money.

Whatever money we make begging we send home to the others who've stayed at home so they have something to eat.

We beg in the evening, after prayers.

Sometimes we get 400CFA (about 70 US cents, 50 pence) a day.

We buy what we need to eat, and then what's left, we send home.

I don't know exactly when we'll go back to our village.

If the rain falls and I have some money, we'll go back to plant.

If there's not sufficient rain, then we'll have to stay in town to beg.

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