Brussels, 22 November 2010
Commission allocates additional €20 million to tackle worsening humanitarian situation in the Sahel
Today, the European Commission amended a previous Financial Decision in order to double its financial commitment in the Sahel Region from €20 to €40 million. The funding will provide humanitarian and food assistance for the most vulnerable sections of the population, bringing total financial aid for the Sahel in 2010 to €74 million.
Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, said: "People living in the Sahel region need our support to survive. This financial engagement shows that Europe cares. I visited the area earlier this year and witnessed the suffering of the people. Timely and significant food assistance funded by the European Commission and the good work of our partners over the past months has saved many lives this Summer. However, in view of the worrying evolution of the situation, it is crucial that we step up our response to save people who are still at risk."
The potential food crisis in the Sahel region was identified by humanitarian aid experts from the European Commission as early as September 2009. Since then, the Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department of the European Commission (ECHO) has been working closely with its humanitarian partners by allocating funds and ensuring that food is made available to those who need it the most and that malnourishment is monitored, prevented and treated.
Meanwhile, the situation has steadily degenerated due to a variety of factors including bad harvests in 2009 resulting in less food being available in the markets, rising food prices, and erratic rainfall. In addition, endemic diseases, such as measles, malaria, cholera and meningitis, are spreading in several countries, thus creating additional humanitarian challenges.
Currently in the Sahel region, over 10 million people are at risk of food insecurity. Of these, over 7 million are in Niger of which 3 million are considered to be severely food insecure and in need of urgent assistance.
The countries most affected by the food crisis in the Sahel region are Niger and Chad and to a lesser extent northern Nigeria, Burkina Faso, eastern and northern Mali and northern Cameroon. These countries have been ranked at the bottom of the list of the Human Development Index (HDI).
Extensive poverty plus the lack of infrastructure and basic services, means that large sectors of the population in the region are extremely vulnerable to external shocks such as climate change, diminishing food production and high food prices.
For more information on the humanitarian aid of the European Commission: