UN World Food Programme

Hunger Crisis Deepens In Africa's Sahel Region

A boy from northern Cameroon where WFP plans to feed nearly 340,000 people through Spring 2011. Copyright: WFP/Stéphanie Savariaud

Some 10 million people in the Sahel region of West-Central Africa risk going hungry as the summer lean season arrives on the heels of a long drought. WFP is stepping up operations in four countries of the Sahel, to ease the suffering of those hardest hit.

DAKAR – Some 10 million people in the Sahel region of West-Central Africa risk going hungry as the summer lean season arrives on the heels of a long drought. WFP is stepping up operations in four countries of the Sahel, to ease the suffering of those hardest hit.

“The Sahel is one of the most destitute regions in the world and the spectre of hunger is pushing increasing numbers of people from the countryside into the cities where they are searching for food to feed their families,” said Thomas Yanga, WFP Regional Director for West Africa.

Cereal Banks

Cereal banks are one way to keep drought from spreading hunger. Find out how a cereal bank in Niger helped Fatih feed her family.

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Situation critical

Yanga said that the situation in eastern Mali, northern Cameroon, Chad and Niger was critical despite efforts by governments, humanitarian agencies and NGOs to avert a crisis.

“People have lost crops, livestock, and the ability to cope on their own. Levels of malnutrition among women and children have already risen to very high levels,” said Yanga. He added that WFP was in urgent need of additional contributions to assist drought victims through the hunger season

This summer, WFP will scale up operations in four countries of the Sahel where the drought has fuelled widespread hunger and malnutrition.

  • Niger: A government survey this month found that half of the population, 7.1 million people, are at risk of going hungry. WFP is working to help 2.3 million people in the worst affected areas survive this year’s lean season. To do so, it will need USD $125 million to scale up feeding between May and December 2010.
  • Chad:  Poor harvests and high rates of malnutrition have put two million people in serious danger this lean season. WFP has launched an emergency operation to assist more than 700,000 people hit by the drought in the west and central regions of the country.
  • Cameroon:  Last year’s cereal harvest fell 10 percent below its five-year average and 19 percent below the previous year. Flooded valleys where herders water their cattle dried up earlier than usual. WFP has responded with an emergency operation to feed 339,000 people until 30 April 2011. 
  • Mali: Farmers and herders were hit hard by late and erratic rains over the last two seasons, stifling food production and threatening much of the country with hunger. An estimated 258,000 people most at risk are currently receiving emergency food assistance from the government, WFP and humanitarian partners.