Sahel: $1.6 billion appeal to address widespread humanitarian crisis

31 January, 2013
Maradai Region, Niger: Local people helping to rehabilitate farmlands under a cash-for- work programme which allows them to earn some money to support their families. Credit WFP/Phil Behan
Maradai Region, Niger: Local people helping to rehabilitate farmlands under a cash-for- work programme which allows them to earn some money to support their families. Credit WFP/Phil Behan

UN agencies and humanitarian partners have appealed for over US$1.6 billion to help millions of people affected by the food and nutrition crisis, conflict and displacement across West Africa’s Sahel region. The funding will provide life-saving aid to people and help them rebuild their lives in countries like Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Gambia, Cameroon and Nigeria over 2013.

Despite a good harvest and improved cereal production in most parts of the Sahel in 2012, access to food still remains a serious concern, especially for poor families who are struggling to cope with food insecurity. Throughout 2013, it is estimated that more than 10 million people will remain food insecure, including 1.4 million children under five suffering from acute malnutrition.

“Even with good rains, severe problems persist in the Sahel,” said the Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel, David Gressly. “We have learned from repeated, massive humanitarian interventions in the past that it is imperative to change the way we respond to the crises in the Sahel.”

Chronic food insecurity and malnutrition, and frequent droughts and floods over recent years have eroded the resilience of the people in the region, making them dependent on aid. The appeal for this year is expected to help support resilience-building projects that focus on rebuilding infrastructure and improving agricultural production.   

“There is a need to rehabilitate livestock and ensure that communities receive the right seeds to improve agricultural production,” said Mr. Gressly. “It is time to deal with the structural problems we see in in the region.”

The humanitarian community in the region is also calling for a more balanced response – one that will cover education, agriculture, health, water and sanitation needs. These sectors were seriously underfunded in 2012 affecting people’s ability to improve their lives.

The ongoing Mali crisis, which has displaced hundreds of thousands of people, is compounding the food crisis in the Sahel. Fighting in northern and central Mali has resulted in significant internal displacements within Mali. Many people have also fled to neighbouring countries that are facing crises of their own. The 2013 appeal is seeking more funds to help people displaced by the conflict.

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