Niger makes artificial rain to fight drought

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The Nigerian government has decided to use chemicals to induce rain in response to the drought that has caused a severe food crisis in the country this year, AFP learned from the meteorological service on Thursday.

“Induced rain” technology involves using an airplane to introduce chemicals into the clouds, including a mixture of silver, sodium and acetone.

“We had to act on this drought problem” to have “many more rainy days and at the same time increase the amount of rain”, explained Katiellou Gaptia Lawan, director of Niger’s meteorological service, which is piloting the operation with the Malian consortium Ibi Air.

He pointed out that there are “many prolonged dry spells in Niger which disrupt the development of crops and pastures”.

According to him, specific interventions should therefore target crop or pasture areas, when they experience “long rainfall respites”.

The west of the country, including the Niamey region, benefited from the first interventions in early August, after several weeks without rain.

The operation will continue until the end of September, the usual end of the rainy season in Niger.

The climate of this country is Sahelian, characterized by a long dry season of 8 to 10 months and a short rainy season of 3 to 4 months, from June to September.

The number of rainy days varies from north to south, with annual rainfall ranging from less than 100 mm, mainly in the north, to 700-800 mm.

However, floods have recently affected the desert north due to climate change, according to Nigerien authorities.

Apart from the drought in several regions, other regions are affected by severe flooding which has claimed 53 lives, affected 87,942 and injured 74, according to the latest official figures.

Due to drought and jihadist violence that have prevented farmers from cultivating their fields, Niger is facing a serious food crisis this year.

According to the government, more than 4.4 million people are “severely” food insecure, about 20% of the population.

The acute malnutrition rate among children is said to be 12.5%, exceeding the emergency threshold of 10% set by the World Health Organization (WHO).

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