- 18 million people remain affected by the food and nutrition crisis in West Africa’s Sahel region due to a combination of drought, poor accessibility to food, high grain prices, environmental degradation and displacement due to conflict. The effects of the drought continue to impact the following number of people per country:
Burkina Faso 2.06 million
Chad 3.6 million
Mali 4.2 million
Niger 6.4 million
Immediate humanitarian assistance is still needed in the Sahel with areas of Mauritania, Mali and Northern Nigeria expected to experience an increase in areas of “stressed” food security.
Even with the expansion of stressed areas, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is predicting an overall sharp decline of people going hungry in 2013; from 19 million in 2012 to 10.3 million this year. This is due to favorable end-of-2012 rains and subsequent good harvests.
Despite improvements in food security, families remain vulnerable from the previous crises of 2010 and 2012 with depleted assets and exhausted drought coping mechanisms.
Additionally, 1.4 million children are expected to remain malnourished in 2013, up from 1 million in 2012. This is due to the ongoing effects of previous shocks and rising food prices in addition to poor health care practices and limited access to clean water. The nutritional survey assessment areas are also expanding due to better access from humanitarian organizations, thus recording higher numbers of reported malnourished children (UNICEF). Malnutrition rates are expected to be highest in Mali.
The UN World Food Programme has reported an 18 percent higher than average production of rice, sorghum, corn and millet throughout the Sahel in 2012 helping to avoid a major catastrophe however, the root causes of food insecurity have still not been fully addressed.
Concern remains over the conflict situation in Mali. Islamist militants continue to pour into northern Mali in an effort to strengthen their hold on the North. Al-Queda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has now claimed to control the entire North of the country.
Major flooding in the Sahel has subsided with much of the focus now centering on prevention to avoid another catastrophe in 2013. However, in countries like Nigeria prevention mechanisms exist but lack adequate means of implementation.