The maize is cut short in Cameroon’s far north. So is the millet and sorghum. The government has decreed that these crops cannot exceed one metre in height, because they might offer cover to armed Boko Haram militants, who, since 2014, have made murderous incursions into the country from across the Nigerian border. Fertilizer, which might be repurposed as an explosive, is also banned.
The timing for these measures, necessary as they may be, could not be more abysmal. Crisis piles upon crisis in this wedge of land, blighted by drought, chronic poverty and erratic harvests, into which a stream of displaced people has poured.
According to the Red Cross, the region is suffering from alarming food shortages, with many people in the extreme north of the country getting by on one meal a day — a reality which Chris de Bode bears witness to in this series of photographs.
“One Meal a Day: the Lake Chad Crisis in Pictures” is at the outside courtyard, St Martin-in-the-Fields, from May 22 to June 2017. redcross.org.uk/lakechad
This article was amended to show the correct currency conversion for a bag of tanne leaves.
Photographs: Chris de Bode/Panos Pictures for the British Red Cross