Details/Information for Canadian Forces (CF) Operation FOODLIFT AFRICA

CF Overseas Operations have most often operated within the construct of an international mandate. As such, the International Information is presented first in order to provide the context of the Canadian Operation (displayed second). Eventually, all rotations associated with the particular Canadian operation will also be displayed.

Canadian Forces (CF) Information (FOODLIFT AFRICA)


Mandating Organization: Government of Canada

Mandate: To transport humanitarian aid to locations in West Africa at the request of the United Nations.

Region Name: Africa

Location: Nigeria

Mission Date: 1 July 1973 - 12 August 1973

CF Mission/Operation Notes:

As a result of drought in West Africa, millions of people were threatened by starvation in an area covering Chad in the west, through Mali, Niger, Upper Volta, and Senegal, to Mauritania in the east. 11 million people were at risk. As a result, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization made an urgent request for famine relief. Canada agreed to provide one Hercules for the month of July.

The initial Canadian response was one Hercules from 436 Squadron. It was soon flying one long trip from Lagos, Nigeria, where relief supplies were being unloaded from merchant vessels, to Dirkou or Arlit, and then another shorter trip to Agadez or Tahoua. On 11 July, two more Hercules, these from 435 Squadron, arrived, with all three aircraft carrying out a routine of two flights each a day for a total of 120 tons daily.

The conditions were harsh, with dust storms daily and high heat – 120 degrees – but it was a dry heat! Bird strikes were common, as were goats and camels on the gravel runways. Dry milk, seed grain and sorghum were the main food supplies delivered.

On 25 July, the original Hercules aircraft left, taking with it the crew of the original detachment. A further appeal from Nigeria, through the UN, extended the operation to 12 August. Fresh crews arrived on 2 August flying from Kano in northern Nigeria, into Maradi and Tahoua with grain for the dying cattle. In 44 days, the three aircraft conducted 133 flights and delivered 2,675 tons of supplies.