25,000 die each day – 25,000 meurent chaque jour (bewing)

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25,000 die each day

“About 25,000 people die every day of hunger or hunger-related causes, according to the United Nations. This is one person every three and a half seconds, as you can see on this display. Unfortunately, it is children who die most often.Yet there is plenty of food in the world for everyone. The problem is that hungry people are trapped in severe poverty. They lack the money to buy enough food to nourish themselves. Being constantly malnourished, they become weaker and often sick. This makes them increasingly less able to work, which then makes them even poorer and hungrier. This downward spiral often continues until death for them and their families.”

2002-02 Toubacouta
2002-02 : Toubacouta (Senegal) – Community garden for women in the Sahel region – Excellent production with only half of the normal quantity of irrigation water – Look at the dark, healthy, continuously moistened soil.

2002-02 : Toubacouta (Senegal) – Jardin communautaire pour les femmes dans la région Sahélienne – Production fantastique avec seulement la moitié de la quantité normale d’eau d’arrosage. Voyez la terre noire, saine, continuellement mouillée.

2003-03 Escola Pretoria
2003-03 : Cabo Verde (Isla do Sal – Escola Pretoria) – Splendid school garden – Former schoolyard transformed into a “garden of Eden”, producing fresh vegetables for the lunches at school. See the happy children ?

2003-03 : Cap Vert (Isla do Sal – Escola Pretoria) – Jardin scolaire splendide – La cour de l’école transformée en “jardin d’Eden”, produisant des légumes frais pour les repas de midi à l’école. Vous voyez les enfants heureux ?

2007-02 - Smara
2007-02 : Sahraouis refugee camp of Smara (S.W. Algeria) – Sahara desert sand transformed into a magnificent family garden (25 m2, sufficient to feed the family). Water and fertilizer saving TerraCottem applied in october 2006; first vegetables (red beetroot and carrots) harvested in november 2006. For the first time all the family members can eat fresh vegetables from their own garden.

2007-02 : Smara, camp des réfugiés Sahraouis (S.W. Algérie) – Le sable du désert Sahara transformé en jardin familial (25 m2 suffisent pour nourrir la famille). Le TerraCottem, appliqué en octobre 2006, économise l’eau et les engrais; premiers légumes (betteraves rouges et carottes) récoltés en novembre 2006. Pour la première fois tous les membres de la famille peuvent manger des légumes frais de leur propre jardin.


Hunger and famine belong to the most chocking and disastrous phenomena on this world. We all get really touched when seeing hungry children, mostly in the drylands, where poverty of the rural people is one of the basic reasons for this plague.

Therefore, it is striking that very positive results, obtained since the nineties with creation of community gardens for women (Burkina Faso, Senegal), school gardens (Cabo Verde, Burkina Faso) or small family gardens (Algeria), do not seem to convince international or national authorities to invest seriously in these easy to duplicate “best practices” to alleviate hunger and poverty.

If local farmers, mostly women, can produce more crops with half of the normal volume of irrigation water, simply by applying one single time a soil conditioner like TerraCottem (see http://www.terracottem.com), why don’t we invest more in the multiplication of vegetable gardens for villagers and school children?

Have a look at my blog <www.desertification.wordpress.com>, see what we are doing with UNICEF ALGERIA for the creation of family gardens in the refugee camps of the Sahraouis people in the Sahara desert, and you will be convinced that a nice solution for the hunger problem exists.

It suffices to apply it to break the downward spiral. I know that the rural population in the drylands lacks the money to buy enough food and being constantly malnourished, is becoming weaker and often sick. Fabulous amounts of money have been and are spent on very diverse, ambitious programmes and projects. What if we would invest in the creation of gardens with TerraCottem, offering the rural people a nice opportunity to produce their own food, even within a period of 2-3 months? Production of fresh food, full of vitamins and mineral elements, makes them increasingly more able to work, which then makes them even less hungry and a bit wealthier (possibility to bring vegetables to the local market).

I see no easier and better way to create an upward spiral. And remember, seeing is believing. That’s what our friends the Sahraouis have been telling us after registering the first successes with their TerraCottem-treated gardens and trees.

The day will come …

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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