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Drought weakens communities in Senegal as hunger sets in

Rebecca Blackwell / AP

Women crowd a well in the village of Kiral, near Goudoude Diobe in the Matam region of northeastern Senegal. Wells in the area are often 75-meters deep, and aren't always able to produce enough water for residents' daily needs.

Since late 2011, aid groups have been sounding the alarm, warning that devastating drought has again weakened communities where children already live perilously close to the edge of malnutrition.The situation is most severe in Niger, Chad and in Mali, but this time it has also pervaded northern Senegal, the most prosperous and stable country in the Sahel.

Rebecca Blackwell / AP

Mariam Orgho, 3, looks at her mother, Coumba Seck, as she cooks the one small meal of the day for her extended family.

Many sub-Saharan economies are growing fast but the growth rates have not translated into significant hunger reduction, said UNDP Administrator Helen Clark.

Sub-Saharan Africa's growth, now around 4 percent, is accelerating faster than the rest of the world excluding China and India, according to UNDP statistics.

According to the agency's African Development Report, nearly 218 million people on the continent are undernourished and 55 million children are malnourished, a figure that is projected to rise.

-- Reported by the Associated Press

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Rebecca Blackwell / AP

Two-year-old Aliou Seyni Diallo collapses in tears after not eating since the day before, inside his family's yard in the village of Goudoude Diobe, in the Matam region of northeastern Senegal. A neighbor stepped in to help Aliou's struggling mother, giving the boy a bowl of dry couscous to stop his tears.

Rebecca Blackwell / AP

Men share a meager breakfast of thin porridge and instant coffee, during a break in building a mud-brick house for a neighbor, in the village of Goudoude Diobe, in the Matam region of northeastern Senegal. With little paid work available, a group of village men, including professional masons, have banded together to build houses for free for several residents.

Rebecca Blackwell / AP

A girl follows a village path through a landscape dotted with thorny scrub brush, in the Matam region of northeastern Senegal.

Rebecca Blackwell / AP

A herder stands on an empty water trough as he surveys his animals, in the village of Mbelone in the Matam region of northeastern Senegal. Some residents spend hours each day pulling up water bucket by bucket from the village's 75-meter deep well, but the well isn't always able to produce enough water for the daily needs of the residents and their herds of cattle and other livestock.

Rebecca Blackwell / AP

Herder Oumar Ba walks away after indicating where one of his cows died, he says, of hunger, outside Dikka village, in the Matam region of northeastern Senegal.