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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 August 2005, 09:06 GMT 10:06 UK
Editor's instinct led to story
It was by chance that Kevin Bakhurst came across pictures from Niger that led to the BBC telling the story of suffering to the world.

Kevin Bakhurst
When I saw the pictures of children who had died, I just wished we had got there two weeks earlier
Kevin Bakhurst
Editor, Ten O'Clock News

The editor of the Ten O'Clock News was searching through agency material for images to illustrate a Live 8 feature when he was struck by the condition of children in a sequence simply titled "feeding centre, Niger".

He asked Hilary Andersson to investigate. Aid agencies including the World Food Programme (WFP) confirmed they had put out an appeal for help but the response had been negligible.

"When Hilary and the team got there, we were all shocked by what they found," said Bakhurst.

"What is particularly shocking is that this is not man-made. It is not war. Niger is one of those countries where people are living on the edge the whole time and they need help."

Failed rains

As Andersson's reports went out on the bulletins and in extended form on BBC World, other media and, more importantly, donor nations started to take notice.

Greg Barrow, formerly the BBC's man at the UN and now a senior official at WFP, said aid started flowing after the TV reports.

"We put out a call for help in November but had barely one third of what we needed," he said.

"But if the media had gone to Niger then they would have seen people struggling but surviving. It's only when it's too late for many children that the images force donor nations to take notice."

Niger's crisis has been caused by a combination of failed rains and locust swarms that have severely reduced the harvest and prices for basic foods that are too high for poor families.

"When I saw the pictures of children who had died, I just wished we had got there two weeks earlier," said Bakhurst.

Reporting the crisis in Niger
02 Aug 05 |  About BBC News


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