UN agency heads and government representatives will meet at WFP headquarters on Wednesday to address the urgent need to scale up humanitarian assistance in the Sahel, where drought and food shortages are threatening millions of people with hunger.
ROME—The meeting has been called at WFP headquarters in Rome to address the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Sahel region of Africa, where millions are at risk of going hungry in the wake of a drought.
Following the meeting, delegates will meet the media on Wednesday 15 February at 12:00 London / 13:00 Rome.
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“This gathering comes at a critical moment as humanitarian agencies are gearing up their response in an effort to prevent a crisis from becoming a disaster,” said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran, who will be chairing the meeting on Wednesday.
“The needs of the millions affected by drought in the Sahel are enormous, and the time to act is now,” she said.
The event will be attended by: by the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), José Graziano da Silva; the President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD),Kanayo F. Nwanze; the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos; the Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), Helen Clark; the European Union’s Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Kristalina Georgieva; the Assistant Administrator of USAID, Nancy Lindborg.
Drought in the Sahel
Late and erratic rains in the Sahel have slashed harvests across a huge swathe of territory that includes parts of Niger, Mauritania, Mali, Chad, Senegal, Gambia, Burkina Faso, and northern Nigeria.
Farmers in the region have seen harvests fall by 14 percent in Burkina Faso and 46 percent in Mauritania. The government of Niger says that over 5.5 million people in the country are at risk of going hungry and that a rapid response will be needed to avert a full scale food crisis.
In Chad, 6 out of 11 regions in the Sahelian parts of the country are reporting “critical” levels of malnutrition, with the other 5 at levels described as “serious”.
Reaching the hungry
WFP aims to reach some 3.3 million people in Niger, 1.95 million people in Chad, 1.1 million people in Mali, 570,000 people in Burkina Faso and 500,000 people in Mauritania.
In regions suffering from high rates of malnutrition, that will mean providing small children and their mothers with special food products to protect against the long-term effects of child hunger.
In other areas, it will mean giving their parents' food rations in exchange for work on projects like irrigation ditches, that will help them to weather the strain of droughts in the future.