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Food Crisis in the Sahel

2011 - Ongoing

Food insecurity continues to be a major concern in  Africa's Sahel region. In 2014, 20 million people are at risk of food insecurity, with 2.5 million needing urgent life-saving assistance (Al Jazeera). An estimated 5 million children in the region are likely to suffer malnutrition. The region has a long history of drought induced food insecurity, with this latest crisis being triggered by a drought following erratic and late rainy season in 2011. The situation has been further exacerbated by population growth and rising food prices. 

Violence in the region has also resulted in large movements of people across borders. Some 1.5 million people have been displaced in Nigeria by extremist groups (UN News). In 2013 Northern Mali was occupied by armed groups, triggering further instability, both within the country, and for the surrounding states attempting to accommodate the 200,000 Malian refugees. On top of this, violence outside of the region, in particular in Central African Republic and Darfur has meant a surge of refugee arrivals in Chad.
















The crisis is spread across 9 countries in the Sahel: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal. Current humanitarian efforts have been dominated by the deteriorating food insecurity in Northern Nigeria, Northern Cameroon and Senegal.

UNOCHA have developed a simple microsite that looks at the situation in the Sahel and summarizes the plans of the humanitarian community in 2015. Take a look at the interactive summary of humanitarian action needed in 2015.

UN 2014-2016 Strategic Plan

A three-year regional plan has been developed for the Sahel for the first time. The strategy provides a set of ambitious objectives and targets that will require a sustained, multi-year effort to achieve. Working within this three-year framework, annual review processes in each country – of priorities, of results, of number of people in need, of funding implications – will continue to be an essential part of the planning and reporting process

UN 2014-2016 Strategic Response Plan: Sahel Region

New Zealand response

New Zealand NGO's who are involved in the region:  ADRA, Caritas, cbm, Childfund, CWS, Oxfam, TEAR Fund, UNICEF and World Vision.

The New Zealand Government (NZAID) donated NZ $1 million to the World Food Programme (WFP)  in March 2012, and a further NZD$500,000 was made available to NGOs through the Disaster Response Partnerships Fund in June 2012.

Current news

24 July 2015 - Nigeria marked one year since its last case of polio, raising hopes it will soon be taken off the list of endemic countries as the first step to being declared free of the disease. Nigeria will be removed from the WHO list of polio-endemic countries in four to six weeks if samples sent for checking are found clear and surveillance data meets international standards. But health professionals and campaigners said the fight is not over and warned about complacency, with another two years to go before polio-free status is achieved. Reliefweb

12 February 2015 - UNOCHA published a report - Sahel: A call for humanitarian aid - responding to the needs of people affected by crises in the Sahel. it outlines grave concerns with 20.4 million people food insecure, 5.8 million acutely malnourished and 2.8 million people displaced. Click here to access the report.

19 January 2015 - The analysis of the results from the November Cadre Harmonisé indicates a limited degradation of livelihoods in northern Mali and in areas where a decrease in the agricultural production was registered. This is mainly due to the positive impact of humanitarian aid and to the harvest period. However, the food security situation could worsen between January and March 2015, in particular in areas where excessive rates of livestock mortality or erratic rainfall were recorded. Protection needs and the lack of access to basic social services (education, health, water, sanitation and sanitation) continue to affect the vulnerabilities of people in the North, including returnees, repatriated and host communities. Reliefweb

17 December 2014 - 2015 Humanitarian Needs Overview - Sahel Region, including food security, malnutrition, conflict related needs, epidemic related needs and disaster related needs Reliefweb

11 December 2014 - As Sahel faces mounting threats, the UN envoy urges Security Council to remain engaged in the region. UN News Centre

11 December 2014 - Despite world cereal production likely to reach an all-time record of more than 2.5 billion tonnes in 2014, a total of 38 countries are at risk of food insecurity, including 29 in Africa, with food insecurity worsening in several countries due to civil conflicts, adverse weather and the Ebola outbreak, according to a United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) UN News Centre

22 October 2014 - The food producing capacity of the Sahel region is not keeping pace with its growing population, and global warming will only exacerbate the imbalance, according to a new study. The Guardian

8 October 2014 -  The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today is launching a programme that will assist 90,000 vulnerable households in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the three countries hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. UN News Centre

4 February 2014 - UN says 20 million people face food insecurity in the Sahel region, with five million children suffering from malnutrition. To help the people in the Sahel, the UN has launched a 3-year response plan. Al Jazeera

2 August 2013 - Changes in rainfall patterns and rising temperatures in the Sahel have led to a disturbing form of population movement: climate displacement. The Guardian

9 May 201 - Those working to combat food insecurity in the Sahel need to work toward greater cooperation and realise that it could take several years for the poorest families to recover from three successive regional droughts and hunger crises. The Guardian

20 February 2013 - A year after the international community launched a massive humanitarian response to the food crisis affecting Africa’s Sahel region, millions of people there are still affected by drought and require assistance, according to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). UN News Center

31 January 2013 - UN agencies and humanitarian partners have appealfor 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. OCHA

29 January 2013 - Humanitarian agencies and the Government of Mali requested over US$370 million today to deliver urgent humanitarian assistance to nearly 4.3 million people in Mali. Mali is currently facing an unprecedented complex emergency. Despite a strong harvest in 2012, the country is still struggling with the effects of the 2011 Sahel drought and the subsequent 2012 food and nutrition crisis. Reliefweb

17 December 2012 - UNICEF highlights the life-saving response to Sahel drought over 2012. UNICEF

19 November 2012 - As this year's emergency winds down, the question on aid workers' minds is, "How can the Sahel break from its recurring cycle of food crises?" Reliefweb