Brussels, 2 June 2010
Sahel region: Additional €24 million for humanitarian aid purposes
The Commission has decided today to allocate an additional €24 million to be used in assisting over seven million vulnerable people affected by the food crisis in Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and northern Nigeria. The new funds will permit the financing of more operations in the nutrition and health sectors. This includes blanket supplementary feeding programmes, screening and treatment of acute malnutrition of children, free access to health services for emergency cases and mobile health services for pastoralist population.
The Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Kristalina Georgieva said, "The permanent presence of ECHO humanitarian aid experts in the region have helped to provide early warning of the risks and possible scale of the food crisis. It is now clear that the situation in the Sahel region is worsening. With this additional €24 million funding, the Commission continues to show its commitment to act early to alleviate the impact of food scarcities and to try to prevent a reoccurrence of the major crises that have severely affected the Sahel region over the past decades. I will soon visit some of the projects that we are funding to evaluate the effectiveness of our humanitarian response and to ensure that our assistance is being used in the most efficient way to help those in need."
The additional assistance approved today will fund the provision of emergency food assistance during the "hungry period" between harvests and the provision of seeds in preparation of the 2010 main agricultural season. The emergency food assistance will be in the context of the recommendations of the Communication on Humanitarian Food Assistance that the Commission adopted last March. (See IP/10/404)
The main beneficiaries of this new funding are the most vulnerable parts of the population that are not yet covered by existing humanitarian operations. Priority will continue to be given to acutely malnourished children under 5 years of age and to pregnant and nursing women. Since the end of 2009, humanitarian experts of the Commission have been working closely with humanitarian partners, especially the UN family, to assess the needs and to propose an appropriate response to the crisis.
Many vulnerable households have been pushed into crisis as a consequence of a conjuncture of erratic rains with consequent poor harvests. This combination of factors has aggravated the already difficult situation caused by continued high food prices and limited wage earning opportunities. It is now estimated that up to 10 million people in Niger and Chad alone require emergency assistance to survive through the current hungry period, which will last until the next harvest in November. Estimates of the shortfall in food production as a result of the erratic rains at the end of 2009 show a deficit of more than 30% in Niger and more than 34% in Chad. Both the governments of Niger and Chad have declared a state of emergency and have asked for international assistance. UNICEF estimates that in the Sahel 300,000 children under the age of five die from malnutrition and related causes every year.
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