West Africa Food Crisis
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Almost 10 million people across West Africa are facing a food crisis following erratic rains that have caused poor food harvests and water shortages.
Floods and heavy rains across Niger have destroyed crops less than two months before harvest, compounding the country’s existing food crisis. The UN estimates that more than 110,000 people have been affected by flooding in Niger, many of whom are among the almost eight million facing severe hunger.
Irregular rains in 2009 led to a severe lack of pasture and water and a poor harvest across West Africa. The worst affected country is Niger where over 7 million people are at risk. Some 2 million people are threatened in Chad and an estimated further 629,000 are affected in Mali. Parts of Nigeria and Burkina Faso are also at risk.
In Niger, the harvest has fallen by 30% compared with the previous year, and some areas, especially the Diffa in the east of country and Tillabéry to the west, have had no harvest at all. In Chad, harvests have fallen by 34%. The areas of Hadjer Lamis, Batha, Kanem, Guera regions and eastern Chad are expected to be hit hard, especially from June 2010. Overall, the harvest in the Sahel has decreased by 9% with great disparities between East and West Sahel.
” We are witnessing an unfolding disaster which can be averted if the world acts swiftly. Five years ago the world ignored the warning signs from Niger, failed to act rapidly and lives were lost. The international community cannot make the same mistake and again condemn many children to an early death.”
– Mamadou Biteye Oxfam’s West Africa Regional Director
Oxfam has launched an emergency programme to provide support:
- 400,000 people in Niger
- 200,000 people in Mali
- 200,000 people in Chad.
In the most vulnerable regions of Niger, especially in the Maradi, Tahoua, Tillabéry and Zinder regions, we are distributing food and supplies to the poorest households and schoolchildren, protecting livestock and buying weak livestock from herders at above market levels.
Particularly important in the current crisis is the early warning system developed by our partners in Niger and broadcasted on rural radio networks. This gives cattle herders the information they need to act quickly.
In Mali, we will be distributing food and animal feed to people worst affected by the crisis.
In Chad, Oxfam is distributing food and seeds, and running agricultural and livelihood support projects. We are also helping rehabilitate and maintain water points, and carrying out hygiene promotion.
Oxfam has worked in the Sahel region for decades, developing sustainable solutions to tackle the root causes of food shortages such as creating cereal and fodder banks, promoting income diversification as well as education and literacy.