Sahel food and nutrition crisis
27 September, 2012
The Australian Government continues to be concerned about the situation across the Sahel region of West Africa. More than 18 million people are at risk of food insecurity, with more than four million children at risk of malnutrition. Photo: UNHCR / H.Caux
Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced $14 million in Australian funding for the Sahel humanitarian crisis during the United Nations General Assembly in New York, bringing Australia’s total contribution so far to $44 million.
The Australian Government continues to be concerned about the situation across the Sahel region of West Africa. More than 18 million people are at risk of food insecurity, with more than four million children at risk of malnutrition.
Australia’s humanitarian assistance to the region is providing food, nutrition supplements, immunisations and water and sanitation facilities to vulnerable communities, including those displaced by conflict.
The Sahel region spans the countries of Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and the Gambia—some of the world’s least developed countries. The causes of hunger and malnutrition in the Sahel region are multifaceted.
This crisis is the result of a poor growing season in 2011, already high malnutrition rates, high grain prices and high levels of population displacement. The situation has been worsened by above-average rainfall in parts of the Sahel, which has led to flooding and a heightened risk of cholera and locust invasion.
A compounding factor has been the insecurity in northern Mali, which has led to more than 450,000 people being displaced, including 185,000 internally and 265,000 as refugees to neighbouring countries.
Australia has provided $44 million in humanitarian support to help mitigate and respond to the crisis in 2012. This places Australia amongst the top five country donors. This funding includes:
- $22 million to the World Food Programme (WFP) for emergency food assistance and nutrition activities in the Sahel region, including Niger, Chad, Senegal, Cameroon, the Gambia, Mauritania and the regional response to the Mali crisis
- $10 million to UNICEF for emergency nutrition assistance in Niger, Mali and Chad
- $5 million to Australian non-government organisations (Plan International, Save the Children, Oxfam and CARE) for food, nutrition and livelihoods assistance in Niger
- $4 million to UNHCR for Burkina Faso and Niger to provide food, water and shelter to refugees fleeing the violence in Mali
- $3 million to ICRC to provide life-saving assistance to internally displaced persons in Mali.
WFP and UNICEF are leading the humanitarian response to the food and nutrition crisis, working together to treat malnutrition. WFP is also continuing its food, cash-for-work, and cash transfer activities which have to date reached almost four million beneficiaries in Niger and one million in Chad.
UNICEF is expecting to treat more than 450,000 children in Niger and Chad where the organisation is currently supporting 345 health centres.
As well as meeting immediate lifesaving needs, Australia is also helping address the underlying causes of food insecurity, and mitigate the impacts of disasters:
- Australia is providing more than $12 million through the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to address long-term food insecurity in the region, including through improving livestock management and preventing diseases affecting food crops.
- Australia also provided $3.5 million to build the capacity of countries in West Africa to identify the causes of humanitarian crises and reduce the risk of these occurring as well as to become more resilient to changes in climate, through the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR).
AusAID at work in Africa
Last Reviewed: 27 September, 2012