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For parents there is always a heavy load of worries, but for Alwilayat Mohammed, a 23 year old mother of two, the struggle to feed her sons this year is more daunting than she’s ever known. Alwilayat is among 18 million people in the Sahel region in need of humanitarian assistance from a food crisis. Lack of rainfall during the wet season has led to failed crops and a dramatic increase in food prices.
“My husband went to the Ivory Coast to look for work last October, but hasn’t sent any money back yet,” says Alwilayat. “I’m now living with my parents. We’re a big family and we have no stocks of cereal left. My father has had to sell some of his lambs to feed us.”
For agro-pastoralists, their animals are their savings in the bank and selling them is a last resort. Many families will not have enough to keep them going till the next harvest. And with so many families forced to sell, the market value of livestock has decreased, further compounding the challenged facing families.
Staff and volunteers from the Burkinabe Red Cross are working around the clock to meet the needs of families just like Alwilayat’s, by providing food vouchers so families can procure food from local traders.
“The assistance from the Red Cross is very important for us because without it we would have to sell more cattle. The vouchers help us avoid that for a little while,” adds Alwilyat.
The numbers of families already struggling to get enough to eat, so many months before the next harvest begins, is a strong indication that action is needed now to prevent a major malnutrition catastrophe. This looming crisis could lead to a significant increase in mortality rates, particularly in children under the age of five, as well as further eroding already precarious livelihoods.
The Canadian Red Cross is ready to assist with emergency supplies and personnel if needed. Despite these efforts, the situation is extreme and more funds are urgently needed to address this evolving crisis. Click here to learn more about the Red Cross response.