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Sahel in 10 Pictures: The Food Crisis in West Africa

by Oxfam | February 15, 2012

The following post appeared in the February 2, 2012 edition of the Huffington Post.

This year, the Sahel region of West Africa is once again likely to face a serious food crisis that could, if early and effective action is not taken, prove as costly to lives and livelihoods as the past food crises in 2005, 2008 and 2010. Every year, these crises affected more than 10 million people.

Oxfam is hoping to reach 700,000 people across Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger with humanitarian aid.

Early recognition of the coming crisis also provides an opportunity to avoid the mistakes of the past, enabling action months earlier than in previous crises. Oxfam believes that by investing now in earlier and more cost-effective actions, vulnerable populations can be protected from the worst impacts of the coming crisis at a much lower cost than if we waited.

Here are a few pictures from the region by my Oxfam colleague Irina Fuhrmann:

Dry sorghum field in Burkina Faso. Sorghum is one of the main grains in the region.
Farmers in the region have seen harvests fall by 14 percent in Burkina Faso and 46 percent in Mauritania.

Farmer and father of ten children : Soudre Amado of Burkina Faso.

A community of rice planters in Watigué, Burkina Faso.

In Chad, the reality of the drought is real. 
Women in the village of Azoza are seen here filtering aunt hills in the hope to find a few grains of rice.

Chad is one of the driest places in the world.

The World Food Program said that 6 out of 11 regions in the Sahelian parts of Chad
are reporting "critical" levels of malnutrition, 
with the other 5 at levels described as "serious."

Cheikh Tijani lives in the middle of a plain used as fodder for his herd.
With the drought worsening, he fears losing his animals — his only source of revenue.

Wild fruits are sometimes the last resort for something to eat.
These "jujubiers" have also dried up.

Chief Aliyin Eleiat from the Gorgol region in Mauritania.
There is still some water in the well that provides water for over 75 families.

In northern Chad, a veterinary works with an Oxfam staff to make sure the goats of local herdsmen are healthy. With its partners, Oxfam often works with local communities to help and save depleting herds.

– Louis Belanger, Oxfam International.

Learn more about this response from Oxfam Canada and the HUMANITARIAN COALITION.