European Commission - Press release
The European Union strengthens food security and fights hunger in the Sahel region
Brussels, 23 March 2012 – Today, EU Development Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, proposed an aid package, worth €164.5 million, to increase food security in the Sahel countries. The region is currently affected by a food crisis as 15 million people are at risk of hunger. The European Commission has already mobilised €123.5 million for the early humanitarian response to the crisis.
Commissioner Piebalgs said: "The EU has taken immediate action to respond to the difficult situation in the region and, as we see that the crisis is growing, we are stepping up our efforts to support the people and the governments. By supporting rural development and food production, we tackle the roots causes of recurring food crises in the region and build resilience of Sahel people and countries. With the strong involvement of our partners we can still avert the major crisis and save a lot of lives, especially of women and children who are usually the first victims of food insecurity."
The new aid package will support the existing national food security systems managed by governments. In addition, cash/food for work initiatives will be reinforced to benefit the poor so they can afford to buy food and the farmers will receive vouchers for seeds and fertilizers. Moreover, information on food security and nutrition will be improved through improved early warning systems on the food situation.
In designing its response the EU also tackles the root causes of food insecurity and under-nutrition through agricultural and health programmes.
This allocation comes in addition to already foreseen or ongoing funding in the food security sector in the region worth €208 million, bringing the total EU contribution for development assistance to around €373 million (for 2007-2013). Further €123.5 million was spent on humanitarian response to the crisis.
Several Sahel countries have declared an emergency and called for international assistance. The EU actions will focus on programmes in Chad, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal. Following the recent coup d'état in Mali, Commissioner Piebalgs decided today to suspend temporarily European Commission's development operations in the country until the situation clarifies. This decision does not affect humanitarian aid.
The Sahel crisis results from poor rainfall, failed harvests, rising food prices and aggravated by migrant workers returning from Libya without any income or job. Moreover, insecurity and terrorism in the region add to the difficulties, and affect the movements of the humanitarian workers in the northern regions of Mali and Niger.
Website of DG Development and Cooperation – EuropeAid
Website of the EU Development Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs
Catherine Ray (+32 2 296 99 21)
Wojtek Talko (+32 2 297 85 51)