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The conflict in the Sahel is upending lives and livelihoods and forcing more people to flee in desperation. The impact of the climate crisis, global economic headwinds that  increase food and fuel prices, declining agricultural production, and intercommunal tensions are the major drivers of hunger in the Central Sahel.

Acute hunger is set to reach catastrophic levels in conflict-affected parts of Burkina Faso and Mali, where access to humanitarian assistance is limited. The ongoing political crisis in Niger and subsequent economic sanctions and border closures are driving up hunger and humanitarian needs, which had already hit unprecedented levels in recent years.

Chad hosts one of the largest and fastest-growing refugee populations in Africa, adding pressure on food-insecure communities. The conflict in neighbouring Sudan has driven hundreds of thousands more across the border, with 1 million now in the country. Despite humanitarian needs spiralling, resources to respond are dwindling, leaving humanitarian groups with few options.

All forcibly displaced people in Central Sahel need urgent life-saving assistance. Most of them are hosted by communities who are often deprived and extremely vulnerable themselves. Food needs are inexorably on the rise, at a time when humanitarian access is becoming increasingly challenging.

Prompt humanitarian action is now essential to save lives. Addressing the growing humanitarian needs, while at the same time safeguarding progress made in recent years in building communities’ resilience, represents a tremendous challenge.

The World Food Programme (WFP) couples its life-saving humanitarian response with an integrated package of activities that shore up livelihoods, restore ecosystems, create jobs and build social cohesion. The aim is to transform lives, end hunger, reduce unsafe migration, educate young people and stem conflict. 

WFP needs US$565.2 million from December 2023 to May 2024, to ensure that families can continue to access life-saving food assistance.

What the WFP is doing to respond to the emergency in the Sahel region

Burkina Faso
WFP operations include: emergency food assistance to internally displaced persons, host communities, refugees and people affected by the lean season; school meals, including support to a yoghurt-production project; treatment and prevention of malnutrition; food assistance for assets for small-scale agriculture; support to value chains; climate insurance; national capacity development; provision of information and communication technology, logistics and other support to partners as needed.
Like other Sahelian countries, Mali experiences high levels of food and nutrition insecurity linked to adverse agroclimatic conditions and high levels of poverty. The situation is exacerbated by conflict. WFP activities range from emergency response to strengthening communities’ resilience to shocks. An integrated approach to resilience includes the creation of assets (roads, dams and water ponds) alongside school meals and nutritional support.
WFP supports crisis-affected populations, including refugees and internally displaced persons, through food assistance, emergency school meals and specialized nutritious food for children. WFP also supports vulnerable schoolchildren during the school year through school meals, with local sourcing of food helping boost famers’ trade. WFP has been implementing life-changing activities that build resilience to the effects of climate change, with communities working on the development or rehabilitation of land, including reforestation and digging of ‘half-moons’ that slow and capture rainwater flow.
WFP is scaling up the emergency school meals programme and works with the Government and UNHCR to implement a large-scale integrated resilience approach for Chadians and refugees alike. WFP supports the Ministry of Health in coordinating nutrition activities and delivering treatment services through government health facilities. WFP provides nutritious school meals to children in food-insecure areas, while the expanding integrated resilience programme involves building warehouses for farmers, and dykes and dams to retain water for irrigation, as well as land rehabilitation, the planting of community forests, and support for smallholder agricultural markets.

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