Sahel: Major EU funding to WFP helps crisis-affected people during hunger crisis
DAKAR – With a Euro 48.5 million contribution from the European Union (EU) received through its Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO), WFP was able to respond to the severe food crisis in eight countries of West and Central Africa during the 2023 hunger gap and beyond.
Food insecurity has reached a 10-year high in West and Central Africa with over 47 million women, men and children unable to meet their basic food and nutrition needs between June and September 2023. In conflict-affected areas of Burkina Faso and Mali over 45,000 faced catastrophic hunger - one step away from famine - during the June-August lean season. During this period stocks from the previous harvest run out leaving families to face food shortages. Malnutrition rates have also surged, with 16.5 million children under 5 set to be acutely malnourished this year – an 83 percent rise from the 2015-2022 average.
In response to this unprecedented hunger crisis, the EU played an instrumental role, mobilizing additional funding across multiple regions and continents to support WFP’s food assistance programmes with a particular focus on people living in conflict-affected areas, refugees, newly displaced people, food insecure families with malnourished children under 5, pregnant and breastfeeding women and girls. In West and Central Africa, the EU contributions helped WFP provide vital food assistance to 3.4 million people in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Nigeria.
“These generous EU contributions supported our programmes in eight countries throughout 2023 — especially during the lean season when needs soar,” said WFP Executive Director Cindy McCain. “It’s no secret that 2023 brought severe funding shortfalls to humanitarian work, which is why last year’s contribution was so vital to sustaining our efforts to save and change lives this year. The EU is one of our top partners and continues to step up to support vulnerable communities worldwide in the fight against hunger.”
Millions of people are living on a knife’s edge in the Sahel region due to a dangerous mix of conflict, forced displacement, acute food insecurity and climate change,” said European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič. “In the face of today’s unprecedented crisis, with record levels of hunger but difficult access to communities, the EU stepped up to help WFP reach the people most in need with vital assistance.”
Overall, in 2023, WFP targeted 11.6 million people – out of 19.2 million people in humanitarian need – in Burkina Faso, Chad, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and north-eastern Nigeria with emergency food and nutrition assistance during the lean season.
In a context of continuously increasing needs, WFP in the West and Central Africa region requires USD 976.6 million to ensure continued operations over the next six months. This includes USD 743 million urgently required for the crisis response.
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The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.
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