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Looming hunger crisis in Sahel: European Commission acts now to save lives

Commission Européenne - IP/11/1374   18/11/2011

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European Commission - Press release

Looming hunger crisis in Sahel: European Commission acts now to save lives

Brussels, 18 November 2011 - The European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) is immediately increasing its funding to the Sahel region of Africa to safeguard the lives of half a million people in a rapidly developing food crisis.

Seven million people are already facing shortages in Niger, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria and Burkina Faso, with major shortfalls in food production in many areas. The figures point to a massive problem of food availability next year.

The Commission is therefore adding a futher €10 million humanitarian funding to the 45 million euros it has given to the Sahel already this year. It means that a further 500,000 men, women and children – in addition to the 6.2 million already being reached with our funding - from the most vulnerable households in the worst affected areas will be protected at the onset of the lean period three months from now.

"By acting now and anticipating the crisis ahead we can avoid the terrible suffering that has struck in another part of Africa this year", said Kristalina Georgieva, the European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response.

"The real effects and the extent of this situation will only be visible in a few months, when the poorest will have no food reserves or money to buy much dearer food, as prices are already rising".

"Tragically there has not been sufficient time since the last crisis in 2010 for a population already weakened by hunger to recover. That is the vicious circle we want to break, but one single donor will not be able to face this huge challenge. I call on everybody to respond to this emergency before it becomes a crisis".

Background

The majority of population living in Sahel is heavily dependent on rain-fed agriculture and livestock for survival. The poor 2011/2012 agro-pastoral season in the Sahel, with erratic rainfall followed by localized dry spells, is causing massive concern. Increased world market prices for rice will also have a negative impact on rice import levels and on prices in West Africa. As a consequence many of the poorest households will be unable to access adequate food and will fall rapidly into crisis. 7 million people in the region are considered to be at high risk of food insecurity in 2012.

Niger and Mauritania have already declared a crisis, prepared national action plans and appealed for international assistance. It is important to continue to raise awareness of the need for early national and regional mitigation actions in the region .

ECHO has been at the forefront of the humanitarian response to malnutrition in the Sahel since 2007 when a specific ECHO Sahel Plan was adopted to raise awareness of nutrition issues, demonstrate the effectiveness of nutrition action and advocate for an enhanced focus on nutrition issues. ECHO has allocated over €235 million to the fight against malnutrition in the Sahel since 2007 and manages these funds from offices in Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso, and Dakar

For more information

Commissioner Georgieva's website:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/georgieva/index_en.htm

The European Commission's humanitarian aid:

http://ec.europa.eu/echo/index_en.htm

Contacts :

David Sharrock (+32 2 296 89 09)

Irina Novakova (+32 2 295 75 17)


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