Primitive transport facilities in West Africa are proving a hinderance to the swift distribution of emergency food supplies pouring into the region for drought relief.
GV Grain being unloladed at dock (3 shots)
SV Grain being packed in sacks (2 shots)
SV Dock workers lounging and sleeping in sunshine(2 shots)
GV Sacks of grain being loaded onto truck(2 shots)
GV Truck driving through arid country(3 shots)
GV Trucks arriving border crossing ferry (3 shots)
GV and CU Camel being loaded onto ferry(4 shots)
GV Grain being unloaded from aircraft(3 shots)
GV Desert camp with children sitting in shade(2 shots)
GV Grain being unloaded from truck(2 shots)
CU People watiting to collect grain ration
GV Grain being distributed to tribeswomen
Initials OS/1959 OS/2016
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Primitive transport facilities in West Africa are proving a hinderance to the swift distribution of emergency food supplies pouring into the region for drought relief.
Thousands of tons of grain are pouring into western African ports every day from all over the world. But its journey from the ports to the desert nomads waiting for it in the drought-stricken Sahara is time consuming, and costly.
The port of Dakar in Senegal is the main entry point for grain from the United States and Europe. From there it is shipped to the parched desert regions of neighbouring Mauritania and northern Mali.
Given the emergency, transportation to these areas should be urgent and quick, but it isn't.
At Dakar port labour is available and cheap. Average earnings of a dockworker are about $2.50 (GBP 1.00 sterling) a day. Unfortunately, the approach to the job isn't always in keeping with the emergency. Once a shipment arrives it sits on the docks for an average of two months before it is loaded on to antiquated trucks or the one train that operate across the Malian border.
It takes anything from three hours to one day to load a train, and if nothing major goes wrong, the train should arrive in Bamako, the capital of Mali about 40 hours later.
But Bamago, 600 miles (960 kilometres) from the coast, is only the halfway point for the relief grain going to the north. Trucks make the remainder of the journey on roads that are only open during the dry season.
Trucks heading north from Dakar to northern Mauritania also strike problems. They are bottled up almost daily at the one border crossing between Senegal and Mauritania. One ferry operates at the border river crossing and the trucks with emergency supplies have no priority over other traffic.
Both the United States and the Soviet Union have tried to surmount these difficulties by airlifting grain to Mali. But this has proved costly. A U.S. airlift recently cost $3,500,000 (GBP 1,400,000) - double the cost of last year's airlift.
The increase in costs is attributed to the Arabs doubling the cost of oil. The African nations are allies of the Arabs, but the west African countries aren't getting any discount on oil. Instead, the Arabs have pledged drought relief in the from of a cash loan.
With the prohibitive costs of airlifts, most of the emergency supplies are still channelled to the drought-hit areas by road and rail.
Organisers of the distribution say modern supplies are at the mercy of an ancient system of transport. What are badly needed are new roads, new railways, a system of communications, and long-range planning.
They see the drought relief as effective.....but not effective enough for the west African people who rely on it for their very existence.