TALATAYE, Mali, Aug. 27 (UPI) — Nomadic tribes in the desert regions of northern Mali are facing one of the worst droughts in 20 years, authorities in that African nation say.
More than a quarter of the district’s population has already migrated elsewhere, toward he Niger river, into neighboring Niger and even as far as Burkina Faso far to the south, Inter Press Service reported Friday.
“Since the end of last year’s rainy season, many herders understood that this was going to be a drought year,” Mohamed Assaleh, mayor of the northern town of Talataye, said. “Grass hasn’t grown anywhere in the district. So they have decided to search for pastures further afield.”
Talataye’s population, estimated at 30,000, survives mainly from herding cattle, camels, sheep and goats. Drought is a recurring threat, and the herders presently face acute shortages of water and pasture.
“It’s unclear how many herds remain in Talataye versus how many have been displaced,” Assaleh said. “Wherever they go, the animals die in large numbers, especially sheep, cows and donkeys.
“A few camels and goats survive in places where there are a few trees.”
The Malian government sent about 400 tons of sorghum for distribution in the district of Talataye, but it’s little help, Assaleh said.
“It’s sorely needed support … but is not part of the customary diet,” Assaleh said.
The government had not consulted with locals before sending the sorghum, he said.
“It should have been replaced by rice or millet. What is worse is that the animals die eating it. So these donations will neither feed people, nor replace cattle feed,” Assaleh said.
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