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In Nigeria, Scarce Water Supply and High Food Prices Leave Families Hungry

NewsHour special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro reports on how a scarcity of water and high supply costs are hindering efforts to improve Nigeria's food supply.

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    We've had difficult times when rainfall was poor, when we had to rely on leaves and shrubs.


    We pluck them, boil them, sprinkle with salt, sometimes eat them with peanut butter.


    Not that the food they enjoy today is either bountiful or balanced. The U.N. says almost a third of Nigeria's young children are moderately to severely underweight.

    In this family's main daily meal is a starchy porridge, flavored with chilies, dried tomatoes, and monosodium glutamate, or MSG, an additive that mimics the taste of meat, as they rarely have the real thing. The few goats and poultry are the savings account, sold to buy clothes or medicine or to pay for a wedding.

    Much of the blame for the poor state of Nigerian agriculture lies with the successive military dictatorships, which since the 1970s promised, but never delivered, on grandiose modernization plans.

    Muhammad Sabo Nanono heads a group of large farmers.

    MUHAMMAD SABO NANONO, farm organizer: The focus was how to improve farming through a large-scale effort, as well as through the creation of facilities for dry-season farming. And this resulted in the construction of several dams in this country, in several irrigation schemes.