Sahel region continues to suffer from recurrent food and nutrition crises (ACTED)

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Tackling hunger in the Sahel: the challenge of resilience

ACTED’s team has published an article about the food crisis in the Sahel on the Huffington Post, which you can also find hereafter:

Food crisis, drought, chronic hunger, rising food prices: the Sahel region continues yet again to suffer from recurrent food and nutrition crises. After 2005 and 2010, the populations of the Sahel region have had to face yet another crisis in 2012, following a disastrous agricultural season in 2011. The succession of droughts leads to inevitable negative consequences for the capacities of millions of people to meet their essential food needs in the Sahel region of West and Central Africa: drought leads to a reduction in agricultural production and rising food prices on consumption markets which affects the most vulnerable households that are highly impacted by the rise in commodity prices.

The food crisis of 2012 in the Sahel, in Niger, Chad, Sudan as well as Mali, Mauritania and Senegal, considerably deteriorated the food security situation of some 18 million people and led to a rise in mortality for undernourished children. At the height of the crisis in mid-2012, certain areas of Mauritania, North Mali and the Sahel region in Chad were faced with “extreme” food insecurity, the level before “famine”, while many other areas were considered to be in “critical” situations.

A major crisis has nevertheless been avoided thanks to humanitarian actors’ mobilisation through emergency interventions. However, despite a good rainy season and a relatively good agricultural and pastoral 2012/2013 season, the negative effects of the food crisis in the Sahel in 2012 are still being felt and lead to difficult access to food and necessary nutriments for the vulnerable populations, especially during the lean period, the time between the stock depletion and the following crop.

A chronic and structural food crisis

The Sahel is facing chronic food insecurity and high malnutrition levels, even during good agricultural seasons. In Chad, even though the production levels rose by 91% since the previous year, 2.1 million people are suffering from food insecurity, including 1.5 million in the Sahel region. In the most affected regions such as the Batha region, over 50% of the population cannot cover their daily basic food needs. In Mali, 2 million people are suffering from food insecurity and the maternal and child mortality rate is one of the highest in the world (13th country out of 136).


Author: Willem Van Cotthem

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

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