By Laura Huyghe [UNICEF]
NIAMEY, Niger, 20 April 2012 – Only a few months ago, 12-year-old Oumar Soumana was happily living with his family in Damana, in south-western Niger. But when the village’s food stocks were depleted – a result of the massive food crisis occurring throughout the Sahel region of Africa – he was forced to leave home and travel to the capital in search of work.
On a recent, sweltering day, Oumar walked down the dusty streets of Niamey carrying a cooler on his shoulder. Inside were ‘appolo’, small plastic bags filled with iced fruit juices, which he sells for a few CFA francs each.
“It is a painful job for me,” he said. “I spend the whole day walking. I do not really rest because I have to sell and bring the money back, otherwise my salary will be reduced, so I prefer to do the maximum.”