Factsheet: West African Food Crisis

Irregular rains in 2009 have 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.

The Situation

  • More than 10 million people across the Sahel region of West Africa are experiencing severe food shortages.
  • Niger – the world’s poorest country - is at the centre of the crisis, with more than seven million people, almost half the population, facing food insecurity and 3.3 million, approaching a quarter of the population, are severely food insecure.
  • Another two million people in Chad (20% of the population), millions more in Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria, and Burkina Faso do not have enough to eat .
  • In parts of Niger, and Chad people are eating wild fruits and leaves and maize meant for feeding poultry
  • Chad women are digging ant-hills for grains and seeds.
  • Cattle herders, who depend on their animals for food and income, are particularly vulnerable. Many animals have died in Chad, Mali and Niger, forcing families to leave their villages, many crossing into neighbouring countries in search of food and pasture for animals.
  • In December 726 children were admitted to feeding centres in these locations but in March 2010 it was 1, 255 (UNICEF).
  • Livestock prices have declined significantly with prices for food stuff increasing.

What is Oxfam doing?

  • In Niger, Mali and Chad Oxfam is already distributing food, seeds and animal feed to the most vulnerable families
  • We are buying weak livestock from herders at above-market prices and making the meat available to local populations.
  • Running cash for work programmes
  • Oxfam has already spent £3 million from its reserves to start emergency work in the most affected areas