With locusts and drought having destroyed crops and stripped grazing land for six million people across West Africa, small farmers have started selling livestock cheaply and eating the seed corn they should plant during next month's expected rains, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said today.
"The combined effect of drought and locust attack, particularly in the more northerly districts of the counties affected has led to significant damage," the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) Edouard Tapsoba said.
"The people in these areas need food aid and help to re-launch their own farming efforts in the form of fertilizer and other inputs for the coming planting season."
In some areas of Mauritania, northern Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad, the prices of food, especially millet, have as much as doubled, OCHA said, while the prices for undernourished cattle and other livestock have plummeted.
Children younger than 5 in Mauritania, Mali and Niger are suffering from rapidly spreading malnutrition and in Niger many villagers have been feeding themselves with wild plants, it said.