International support in Sahel unprecedented but remaining insufficient (ACF)

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A Year After Crisis in the Sahel, Key Challenges Remain

By Paula Assou

Conditions in the Sahel have improved but increased funding is needed to help millions still suffering

Since the 2012 hunger crisis in the Sahel region of West Africa, conditions have improved but an estimated 11.3 million people remain threatened by hunger and 1.5 million are at risk of acute malnutrition. International support for the humanitarian response has been unprecedented but remains insufficient.

In 2012, 18 million people in the Sahel faced life-threatening food shortages brought on by drought, poverty, and drastic food price increases. The humanitarian community’s scale-up and response to the crisis led to the treatment of over 925,000 children for severe acute malnutrition (SAM), 85,000 of whom were treated by Action Against Hunger’s teams. Over the past year, the rains and harvests have improved but hunger in the Sahel region is still a major concern for us.

Millions still at risk

11.3 million people currently living with food insecurity in the Sahel are close to entering a period of famine. In addition to the millions of people who are food insecure, 1.5 million children under the age of five are at severe risk of malnutrition. More than 600,000 refugees and about 444,000 internally displaced people (IDPs), who have fled unstable northern Nigeria and Mali, are in need of assistance. According to UNICEF thousands of children suffering from undernutrition have been admitted to health centers across the Sahel. Without sufficient support for the summer lean season, a period of low harvest due to poor rainfall, the needs of very poor and vulnerable households, in particular, will increase in coming months.

Insufficient financing

Despite the outpouring of international support following the Sahel crisis, funding for long-term and emergency programs remains inadequate. The United Nations Consolidated appeal has only netted 36% of the funds needed. Breaking this down by sector, only 32% of nutrition, 25% of health, and 11% of water and sanitation funding needs have been met.



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Willem Van Cotthem

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