Brussels, 13 July 2012
Food security: EU aid for over 310 000 people in Senegal
The EU has decided to respond to the food crisis affecting the Sahel region by providing food aid to Senegal, in partnership with the UN World Food Programme (WFP), for the 314 000 most vulnerable people in the areas most at risk - Casamance (Ziguinchor, Sedhiou and Kolda), Tambacounda, Kédougou and Matam.
Andris Piebalgs, Commissioner for Development, said: “The food crisis is threatening hundreds of thousands of lives in Senegal. We must show solidarity and support the Senegalese Government at this difficult juncture, in both the short and medium terms. The aid we are giving today is in addition to our efforts to reinforce Senegal’s agricultural systems and make the Sahel region countries more resilient to external shocks".
Amounting to €5 million, the aid programme is a backup to the humanitarian programmes of ECHO – the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department – and will provide a three-pronged response up to March 2013:
• Targeted food hand-outs: with the early start to the annual lean season, in other words the period prior to the first harvests during which there may be a shortfall of grain from the previous harvest, 58 000 people will receive full food rations;
• Vouchers: 70 000 people will receive vouchers which can be exchanged for staple food items; some 180 000 children and adults will receive food targeted at 30 000 pregnant women and mothers of children under the age of five. These women will also receive appropriate training in nutrition and food hygiene;
• Food for work: 34 500 people will receive food aid in exchange for work in building or renovating the agricultural infrastructure used to produce and store food.
Senegal suffered low and erratic rainfall in 2011, resulting in a poor harvest in 2011/2012. Grain production was 36% down on the previous year and 20% lower than the average for the five previous years. For groundnuts, the main leguminous plant grown in Senegal, these rates were 59% and 31% respectively.
The food reserves of the communities hardest hit are almost exhausted. Over half of the people of Ziguinchor, Kolda, Sedhiou, Kédougou, Fatick and Kaolack (or six of the fourteen regions) have insufficient access to food (food insecurity rate of over 50%). This rate will probably continue to rise because of the longer lean season, which started in March rather than July this year.
In all, 739 000 people living in rural areas are in a fragile situation as regards food resources and need assistance up until the harvest in October. Likewise, an estimated 67 000 people in urban areas will be affected by the crisis and will need emergency food aid.
The EU in the Sahel region
The European Commission, the leading donor in terms of funding for this crisis, was also the first off the mark in responding to the crisis at the end of 2011. By acting swiftly in response to the early warning signs, it has already saved thousands of lives among the eighteen million people affected by the current food crisis in eight Sahel countries. The Commission aid is intended to prevent famine among the most vulnerable: one million children under the age of two and 500 000 pregnant or breastfeeding women.
In addition to the €337 million mobilised for the food crisis and the conflict in Mali, a budget of €208 million has already been set aside to finance the food security projects in progress and thus to remedy the chronic food insecurity problem in the Sahel region. This brings the Commission’s total budget for improving food security in the region to over €500 million.