1975 Photo Contest, General News, 2nd prize

Ovie Carter

Chicago Tribune

01 July, 1974

A mother comforts her starving child at a camp in Kao, a tiny village in the Tahoua region of central Niger. From 1968 to 1974, severe drought devastated Niger’s livestock and crop production. The drought not only affected Niger but the entire Sahel region, where an estimated 350,000 people died of starvation in 1974. Many food production problems compounded to produce the famine, including the global energy crisis, worldwide inflation and recession, and the lowest levels of wealthy nations’ emergency food reserves since World War II due to massive crop failures and natural disasters. World grain prices became so high that the Nigerien government could not buy and deliver enough food to its citizens. Because there was no food stockpiled in Kao, the 2,500 villagers were dependent on supply roads for relief aid. Large quantities of aid eventually arrived to the region in May, at the start of the rainy season when supply roads were impassible due to violent rainstorms. By August 1974, several people were dying in Kao each day. In September, the government announced it was replacing trucks with camel caravans to supply the Tahoua district towns.

About the photographer

Ovie Carter

Ovie Carter (Indianola, Mississippi 1946) studied at the Ray Vogue School of Photography in Chicago using the G.I. Bill, after a spending a year in the US Air Force (1966-1967). ...

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