Africa: Sahel Food Crisis

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The Sahel region in Africa has experienced the worst locust invasion in 20 years. Unfavourable weather conditions have left the region with a severe food crisis and malnutrition.

The most affected countries are Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali and Mauritania. The crisis has increased the vulnerability of the population despite the intervention of humanitarian organizations and governments in food distribution.

The governments of Niger and Mauritania have appealed to the international community for assistance. However, the level of response has been quite low.

Each country situation differs considerably.

The United Nations says the situation is most alarming in Niger with 3.6 million of its 12 million inhabitants directly affected by the food crisis. Over 800,000 children under the age of five are severely affected by the food shortage and 150,000 severely undernourished.

In Mali, 20% of the population could suffer from food insecurity or even famine.

In Mauritania about 750,000 people (26% of the population) remain affected by last year’s locust invasion.

In Burkina Faso, the government estimates that some 500,000 people need food assistance.

The findings of an International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies' assessment mission reveal a serious food crisis and jeopardized livestock. The organization calls for urgent action to support the concerned national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies in assisting the most vulnerable.

The main activities of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement include:

  • assisting the national societies in providing food to the most vulnerable in targeted communities,
  • supporting the national societies in operating community-based feeding centres, and
  • capacity building of the national societies related to food security (also for longer-term), mobilization of local committees and sensitization and awareness programs among the most affected populations.