My neighbours in Djibo, and people all over Burkina Faso, are talking about their government’s recent purchase of three warplanes at a cost of 10 million dollars each.
It’s bad timing, at best. Harvests in Djibo have been miserable this year, due to a poor rainy season (July – September) and a massive invasion of sparrows. Our friend Paul got nothing from his field this year, not even enough millet for one meal. Our neighbour ‘Vieux’ spent every night in his field rather than at home, trying to scare the birds off – and his efforts were rewarded with about one month’s worth of millet. All over the country farmers and journalists are beginning to mutter the f word. Famine. And it’s only November.
I spoke to Monsieur Romba at ‘Action Sociale’ last week. He did not use the f word. He used the phrase ‘food security crisis’, which amounts to nearly the same thing. What’s to be done, I asked him. ‘Aid,’ he said. ‘Our government will have to provide food aid this year, and lots of it.’
But rather than concentrate on countering the effects of feathered birds, the government seems to be more interested in acquiring metal birds. Metal birds with a 1.5 tonne capacity for loading bombs, rockets and missiles. Brazilian metal birds with the name – you’ll love this – Super Tucano.