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Christian Aid responds to worsening Sahel hunger crisis

January 24 2012 - With seven million people across five West African countries facing the spectre of famine within months, Christian Aid is stepping up its early response plans to assist those living in the stricken Sahel region.

Niger, Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania all suffer from chronic malnutrition crises but the prospect of a full-blown emergency has prompted the governments of all five countries to declare states of emergency and call for international assistance.

'The Sahel is once again facing a humanitarian crisis and, unusually this time, several governments in the region have called for international assistance and are developing emergency response plans. Now the responsibility is on the international community to scale up fast enough to avoid major suffering since these governments cannot tackle this on their own,” says Cristina Ruiz, Christian Aid’s Africa humanitarian programmes manager.

As a result of failed rains and wide-spread drought, Mali lost 11.8% of total cereal output between 2010 – 2011, while in Burkina it is estimated that 41.47% of the country will face severe food insecurity, and in Niger the government believe that more than half of the nation’s villages are now running out of basic food.

'Our emergency task forces are already reporting significantly worsening hunger levels throughout the Sahel, and we are ready to scale up our early interventions in Mali and Burkina Faso, including ensuring access to cereals, cash transfers, nutrition support, providing animal fodder and destocking, and reinforcing livelihoods and resilience.”

Christian Aid is working with other UK agencies through the Sahel Working Group (SWG) both in the UK and the region. The SWG report, Escaping the Hunger Cycle : Pathways to Resilience in the Sahel, was launched late last year. http://bit.ly/mUCYty

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If you would like further information please contact Cristina Ruiz on +226 72818177/email cruiz@christian-aid.org or Emma Pomfret on +442075232427/ email epomfret@chrsitian-aid.org. 24 hour press duty phone – 07850 242950  

Notes to Editors:

1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in nearly 50 countries. We act where the need is greatest, regardless of religion, helping people build the lives they deserve.

2. Christian Aid has a vision, an end to global poverty, and we believe that vision can become a reality. Our report, Poverty Over, explains what we believe needs to be done – and can be done – to end poverty.  Details at http://www.christianaid.org.uk/Images/poverty-over-report.pdf

3.  Christian Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of 100 churches and church-related organisations that work together inhumanitarian assistance and development.  Further details at http://www.actalliance.org

4. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid_newswire

5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid visit www.christianaid.org.uk