Niger, ‘Food Crisis’
Contemporary Issues, first prize singles
June 27, 2010
Gadabedji, Niger Entrails and skeletons of dead livestock lie in the Gadabedji reserve in the Maradi region of Niger in western Africa. Meat traders buy up dying livestock, slaughter the animals, cook the meat on the spot and sell it to neighboring Nigeria. The worst drought in Niger since 1984 had left farmers’ herds starving and the Gadabedji reserve offered some of the last grazing land in the country. Together with a failed 2009 harvest, the drought led to a food crisis in Niger, with Maradi being one of the most severely hit regions. By mid-2010, a World Food Programme survey estimated that 2.5 million children in Niger were in need of emergency food aid. Lacking refrigeration facilities to store meat themselves, local cattle-farmers had little option but to sell their dying animals at a fraction of the usual rate and use the money to buy what food they could.
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Marco Di Lauro
About the photographer
Marco Di Lauro
Marco Di Lauro was born in Milan in 1970. He took his first photograph at the age of 14, during a vacation in Egypt. Thinking of becoming an art critic, he studied Italian literature and art history at the State University of Milan, and later enrolled in a journalism course at Boston University in Massachusetts. In 1995, he returned to Italy and obtained a diploma in photography from the European Institute of Design in Milan. Between 1990 and 1994, Di Lauro documented such issues as abused and abandoned children in India, and the poverty of the inhabitants of Peru's Andes mountains. At the same time he covered fashion shows in Milan and Paris as an assistant photographer, and worked as assistant photo editor at Magnum photos in Paris. In July 1998, he paid his own way to the Kosovo, and was on hand when the ethnic cleansing began, just months after his arrival. His pictures from the front, printed every evening in a makeshift darkroom, were taken up by The Associated Press. Di Lauro became an AP staff photographer and covered the 2000 Jubilee of the Catholic Church in Rome. He moved to the city, serving as photo editor for the Rome office. In October 2001, two weeks after the attack on Manhattan's Twin Towers, Di Lauro left on his own initiative for Afghanistan. For the second time in three years, he found himself in the right place at the right time. He was one of the first Westerners able to cover the fall of Kabul from the inside, under the fire of the troops of the Northern Alliance. In 2002, Di Lauro began working under an exclusive contract for Getty Images, covering the Middle Eastern conflict in the Gaza Strip and the invasion of Iraq. Along with his war photography, Di Lauro has covered more traditional, though no less hard-fought, clashes, such as the Palio of Siena horserace, and the battle of the oranges that breaks out every year in the city of Ivrea in Italy at Carnival time. He also has also covered religious events, such as the Easter processions in Sicily, the procession of the snake-handlers in the Town of Cocullo and the Easter Processions in Seville or the religious life in Italy and the Vatican City. Di Lauro's work has appeared in major publications worldwide, including Newsweek, Time, The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, GQ, Vanity Fair, The Times, The Daily Telegraph, Der Spiegel, Stern, Paris Match, Le Monde and many more. He has had solo exhibitions in Rome and Milan, and his work has formed part of group exhibitions in Europe, the US, the UK and Iran. Among Di Lauro's numerous awards is a World Press Photo prize in 2002, three PDN (Photo District News) awards, six PX3 (Prix de la Photographie Paris) prizes and a Gran Premio Nazionale di Fotografia in Italy.