More than 18 million people in the Sahel region of West Africa (click here to check out the World Food Programme’s interactive map) are at risk of severe hunger due to a combination of bad weather, failed harvests, soaring food prices and market insecurity. Conflict in Mali has also forced 340,000 people from their homes, adding to the food insecurity. The crisis has been ongoing now for several months but NGOs and the UN are seeing things getting worse on the ground. Six national governments have declared states of emergency.
Save the Children Canada does excellent work on issues of maternal and child health around the world and I was asked to help by sharing information with GF readers about the West Sahel crisis. Save the Children is working with a group of NGOs called the Humanitarian Coalition, which has recently launched a joint appeal to respond to the drought and food crisis. They point out that mothers and children are typically the most vulnerable groups in this type of crisis. It’s estimated up to one million children are at risk of severe hunger in Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, Chad, Mauritania, Cameroun, and other neighbouring countries.
Canadian aid worker Annie Bodmer-Roy, who has spent the past month working in Niger, said there were alarming gaps in the food available in the Sahel region, where 18 million people are facing hunger.
“The situation in the Sahel is already appalling. In countries like Niger, families are struggling to survive on next to nothing, and children are paying the price…mothers have told me they have little or no food to feed their children…Our latest analysis shows just how bad the situation has become, and confirms our worst fears: a major emergency is now upon us.’’
The Humanitarian Coalition has put together the following slideshow with more information. It shows the challenges mothers and children are facing, as well as their resilience and work through crisis. If you’re having trouble viewing it below you can view the original here.
Even if you can’t afford to donate it helps to spread the word and make sure this level of devastation doesn’t happen out of sight and out of mind. You can download banners and a fact sheet on the coalition’s website and share those and the slideshow.