When you wait until it’s bad, it’s too late (Google / Winnipeg Free Press)

Read at : Google Alert – images of the Africa Drought


The suffering Sahel

City-based agency rushing to feed drought-stricken region in Africa

Niamey, Niger — For the second time in as many years, a food-security crisis is looming over Africa, this time over a broad and rain-starved swath of the continent known as the Sahel.

Food shortages in the Horn of Africa threatened the lives of millions in 2011. Local and international relief efforts prevented famine conditions from arising in Kenya and Ethiopia, but mass deaths occurred in Somalia due to the failed state’s inability to mount an effective response to food shortages.

The United Nations fears a similar crisis is taking shape this year in the Sahel, a semi-arid strip of Africa that stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea, on the southern fringe of the Sahara Desert.

Drought and crop failures threaten the food security of millions in Mauritania, Senegal, Cameroon, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria and Chad, the nations that collectively make up the West African portion of the Sahel. Estimates of the number of people at risk of hunger or malnutrition vary from six million to 15 million.

Despite the uncertainty, the UN and some of the world’s largest aid groups are sufficiently concerned to appeal for donations to avert the crisis, which could be compounded by regional conflicts that stymie food-distribution efforts as well as “famine fatigue” among potential donors.

“The challenge we have in a situation like the Sahel is we’re projecting a disaster. We’re trying to get ahead of the curve,” said Jim Cornelius, executive director of the Winnipeg-based Canadian Foodgrains Bank, an umbrella organization for 15 Christian charities.

“In this particular situation, it’s much harder to raise money when it looks like it’s going to be bad, versus when it is bad. But when you wait until it’s bad, it’s too late.”


Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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