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Cereal banks empower women and fight famine in Africa's Sahel region

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Samuel de Jaegere/Reuters/File

(Read caption) Women in Niger beat stems of millet in Salewa village, about 250 miles from the capital Niamey. Aid groups have begun women-run cereal banks to help ensure steady grain supplies year round in the drought-prone Sahel region of Africa.

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Drought and high food prices in 2012 threatened the food security of more than 18 million people in the Sahel region of Africa, which includes parts of Chad, Niger, Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Gambia, Cameroon, and northern Nigeria.

The Sahel is prone to drought, and is becoming increasingly so with climate change. Consequently the people in this region are experiencing more frequent bouts of food insecurity and malnutrition.

Fortunately, organizations such as the World Food Program (WFP) and Care are joining forces to create all-women-managed cereal banks in villages throughout the Sahel that not only help protect against seasonal famine, but also empower women as agents of food security in their communities.

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