Shawn Baker reports from a nutrition rehabilitation clinic in Niger that treats children with acute malnutrition.
Another installment in Shawn Baker’s continuing adventures traveling with NY Times Journalist, Nicholas Kristof.
We all met up early at the airport in Dakar to take the flight to Niamey, the capital of Niger. The pilot announced that the ground temperature was 38 degrees Celsius (that’s 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit!) – indicating we had left the relatively cool temperatures of Nouakchott and Dakar behind. Our team in Niamey, led by HKI’s Country Director in Niger, Marily Knieriemen, met us at the airport and we had a late lunch at Marily’s house before heading off to Dogon Doutchi – a market town about 20 km (12.4 miles) from the border with Nigeria.
Shawn Baker describes his visit to a health center with Nicholas Kristof
Shawn Baker continues his travels with NY Times Journalist, Nicholas Kristof, and the two winners of his “Win-A-Trip” contest. Below is his second post.
My only prior trip to Mauritania was in 1987 when I visited the capital, Nouakchott. Having spent over two decades since living in or visiting 30 other African countries, I was not excepting to be surprised. However, from the time we left Senegal last Thursday – my home for the past eight years – to arriving back today, it was a constant source of amazement. Who could have known that all that separated me from a vastly different country was a ferry ride across the Senegal River?
The road between Nouakchott and the border with Senegal is the major economic lifeline of the country but it is hard to imagine that this narrow strip of macadam, eaten away by sand and salt air, regularly covered with sand dunes, and filled with bone-jarring potholes, is what facilitates commerce between two countries; the overall impression is a sparsely populated moonscape.
We stopped at a few places along the way to chat with villagers, so Nick could interview a lactating camel, and finally to visit a health center in the largest town between Nouakchott and Rosso.
NY Times Journalist Nicholas Kristof visits a flour mill where there's more than meets the eye.
HKI’s Shawn Baker and Douglas Steinberg are currently hosting NY Times Journalist, Nicholas Kristof, and the two winners of his “Win-A-Trip” contest – Saumya Dave, who studied writing at Columbia University and medicine at Medical College of Georgia, and Noreen Connolly, a teacher from Newark, NJ – as they travel throughout Senegal, Mauritania, Niger and Burkina Faso.
Shawn and Doug will be blogging throughout the week sharing their insights and experiences as they travel with Kristof uncovering stories in public health. The first post, written by Shawn, is below.
Understanding the food crisis’ effect on nutrition
This post was written by HKI’s Vice President and Regional Director for Africa, Shawn Baker.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization recently announced that food prices have hit a record high. This new surge in food prices has garnered considerable media attention. From articles in the Guardian to The New York Times, people are discussing the reasons for this increase and the effect it will have on the world’s population. Many even think high food prices have sparked the recent wave of political upheaval across North Africa. However, very little attention has been paid to the far more devastating and pernicious impact that the increase in food prices is having on the general public.
A famine in Niger is threatening the lives of nearly 400,000 children.
Right now a humanitarian crisis is devastating the lives of millions. But you may not have heard of it. It’s neither the terrible earthquake in Haiti nor the destructive flooding in Pakistan. In the fragile country of Niger, located in sub-Saharan Africa, a food crisis – a famine actually – is affecting over 7 million people, or half of the country’s total population. Children – as many as 400,000 − are dying from starvation and diseases exacerbated by malnutrition.