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West Africa food crisis: how we responded

February 2013

Throughout 2012, more than 19 million people in the Sahel region of west Africa were affected by a severe food crisis, caused by a mixture of drought, the failure of several crops and a sharp rise in food prices. 

The response of our supporters has been enormously generous since we opened the appeal last March and we have received £1,307,000. This has allowed us to support more than 214,000 people, supplying emergency food and clean water as well as supporting farmers to be more resilient to future crises.

Rains over the Sahel region were good in most of the region during the last rainy period (July – October 2012). But despite good harvest prospects the situation remains critical for people across the region.

An estimated 10.3 million people will remain food insecure in 2013 and more than 1.4 million children are at risk of severe acute malnutrition

Ongoing insecurity

In Mali and neighbouring countries the situation has also been aggravated by political instability and conflict.

In March 2012, junior officers from the Malian army launched a coup and took control of the country. Tuareg rebels and Islamist fighters took advantage of the confusion to seize large parts of the north of the country.

In January this year, French and allied African troops launched a military intervention to take control of the vast desert north of Mali, causing the humanitarian situation to deteriorate further.

Nearly 400,000 people have been uprooted by the violence - 225,000 people have been displaced within Mali’s borders and 165,000 have fled to neighbouring countries, most of them moving to areas where food and pasture were already in short supply.


Our response

We are bringing help to communities in Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso, which are among the worst affected countries. Our immediate response involved sending funds to finance an urgent early intervention programme through our long-term, local partners in those countries.

And our resilience programmes will enable farmers to grow enough food for their families, despite the increasingly difficult weather conditions.

This film, about a UKAid-funded project in Burkina Faso, reflects our long-term work with drought-threatened communities in the region.

Our other activities include:

Supplying improved seeds to communities in Burkina Faso to help them grow food despite the drought.

Distributing rice and cereal for displaced families in Mali. Despite the conflict we are working successfully in communities badly hit by the shortages.

Providing training in food and nutrition to pregnant women and mothers of malnourished children in northern Niger, allowing them to have two meals a day for one month.

Christian Aid is also now responding to the flooding, providing food, blankets and hygiene kits for those left homeless.

And we are working with fellow NGOs in the Sahel Working Group (SWG), lobbying international bodies to release sufficient funds to tackle the crisis.

Find out more

Flickr: photo gallery from the west Africa food crisis

Flickr: conflict and hunger in Mali


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