In the drought-stricken areas of West and Central Africa much-needed supplies are at last beginning to arrive from the rest of the world.
AERIAL V Semi-desert
SV Man walking through desert
GV Dead cattle (3 shots)
SV Boy suffering from malnutrition (2 shots)
GV PAN Cattle walking towards village
SV Boy (with swollen stomach)
AERIAL V Aircraft dropping supplies
SV INT Airmen throwing out supplies
GV Hercules landing ZOOM TO villagers near runway
SV Supplies being off-loaded
SV ZOOM BACK FROM Crowd around 'plane
GV PAN OVER docks and grain being unloaded (2 shots)
GV ZOOM Dockers unloading oil
SV Grain being swept up & into sacks
CU Tap running
SV Villagers collecting water (4 shots)
SV Families receive grain
SV Sacks of grain into store
SV Grain store & people receiving grain (2 shots)
SV Man with horse-drawn cart
Initials BB/1849 IG/AW/BB/1909 SGM/2140
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Background: In the drought-stricken areas of West and Central Africa much-needed supplies are at last beginning to arrive from the rest of the world. But there are fears that the supplies are not reaching those areas where they are most needed.
The countries affected by the drought -- Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Upper volta, Niger and Chad -- form a sub-Saharan region known as the Sahel.
For the last five years the rains have failed and the situation has gradually changed from one of distress to one of desperation. Early reports suggest that this year's rain has begun but only in certain areas, and even in these it is intermittent.
Since late last month, supplies of grain and animal feed have been reaching the Senegalese port of Dakar and the Ivory Coast port of Abidjan. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations has so far collected almost three million pounds sterling (7 1/2 million US dollars) for relief purposes -- but the problem seems to be more one of logistics than of supplies.
At present, grain is being stockpiled in the warehouses of Dakar and Abidjan. The road system into interior areas is primitive and there is a shortage of vehicles. Even at this stage, there is no general requisitioning of private transport or declaration of states of emergency by any of the governments' concerned.
Railways have not been of much use. There are two main lines form the coast inland -- one from Dakar to Bamako in Mali and the other form Abidjan to Ougadougou in Upper Volta. At full capacity the two lines can transport 5,000 tons of grain a week.
Air-lifts, as a means of bringing in relief supplies have been undertaken in this region since last month. Though very popular among Western countries local observers believe that they are in fact of very little use there. In the countries of West Africa, with a high proportion of nomad,s many have left their homelands in search of water. It is almost impossible to find the drought-stricken inhabitants by air.
The West African drought has not been a sudden disaster that has taken anyone by surprise. Instead, it has bene the slow realisation, as year-after-year, the rains failed, that a desperate situation was building up. Now the desperation has reached crisis point and people are not just suffering from malnutrition they are dying from starvation. Supplies are reaching Africa, but the essential need now is to see that those supplies reach the areas where they are most needed and as soon as possible.