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Hunger in Sahel worsens as ‘lean season’ begins: ‘The worst is yet to come’

CHAD-FAO-AGRICULTURE 36

Football legend Raul Gonzalez, Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), learns while speaking to goat herders in Chad that protecting people’s livestock is essential for preventing them from falling into the danger zone during the current food crisis. Livestock will also be essential, the people say, for helping them to recover from the crisis afterwards. Chad is one of eight West African countries being hit hard by drought in the Sahel, a belt of semi-arid land south of the Sahara Desert that stretches across the whole of the north of the African continent. Some 13 million people in eight countries of the West African Sahel are facing a severe food crisis. In addition to Chad, these countries are Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal. (Photo on Flickr by FAO/Sia Kambou/European Union Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection.)

Mark Tran in the Guardian’s Global Development Blog gives an update on the deteriorating food situation across Africa’s Sahel region. He says that aid agencies are facing funding shortfalls to tackle hunger as political uncertainty as well as drought worsen the crisis for some 18 million hungry people.

‘. . . Relief agencies have been sounding the alarm for months about the effects of drought on the Sahel—a region stretching from the Atlantic to the Red Sea. The situation has been made worse by the knock-on effect of the Libyan uprising that has destabilised Mali. With the onset of the “lean season”—the next three months will be the driest and harshest period of the year—aid groups warn that the worst is yet to come.

For months now, families have been telling us they have next to nothing to eat,” said Justin Forsyth, chief executive of Save the Children. “In Niger, mothers have little or no food to feed their children. Our analysis now shows just how bad the situation has become and confirms our worst fears: a major emergency is now upon us.”

‘The UN says about 18 million people are affected by a drought and food crises in nine countries. Unicef warned in December last year that more than 1 million children would need life-saving treatment for severe acute malnutrition and appealed for $119.5m. The figure has since gone up, as conflict in Mali has forced 170,000 people from their homes, with some seeking refuge in neighbouring Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Niger. . . .’

Read the whole article at the Guardian‘s Global Development Blog: UN and NGOs appeal for Sahel aid as west Africa food crisis worsens, 12 Jun 2012.

Read an opinion piece by ILRI director general Jimmy Smith: Turning defeat into new destiny–Going beyond food aid in the Horn of Africa, 24 Jan 2012.

Visit the website of the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems.

Read ILRI’s earlier blog reports
on this year’s food crisis in the Sahel
(06) 26 May 2012
Extreme hunger in East Africa and the Sahel: Building response systems that work.
(05) 24 Apr 2012
FEWS NET says rainfall in Africa’s eastern Horn may be below normal again this year.
(04) 30 Mar 2012
Oxfam on the West African food crisis that is building.
(03) 13 Feb 2012
Climatic conditions linked to Horn’s 2011 drought persist–could spell another food crisis.
(02) 03 Feb 2012
United Nations declares famine over in Somalia–but says millions still at risk.
(01) 30 Jan 2012
Flawed global food systems–not drought–cause of African famines.

Read about some livestock-based options/projects
to help Africa’s drylands peoples cope better with drought
(24) 07 Jun 2012
Foolhardy? Or just hardy? New project tackles climate change and livestock markets in the Horn.
(23) 07 Jun 2012
Saving the plains: ILRI research team wins Sustainability Science Award for its pastoral research in Masailand.
(22) 06 Jun 2012
Africa’s vast eastern and southern drylands get new attention–and support–from agricultural researchers.
(21) 05 Jun 2012
Supporting dryland pastoralism with eco-conservancies, livestock insurance and livestock-based drought interventions.
(20) 01 May 2012
New markets book showcases livestock insurance scheme that is helping Kenyan herders protect their marketable assets.
(19) 29 May 2012
Dry-season milk supplies to pastoral children improves their nutrition, development and health.
(18) 10 May 2012
Meat exports and livestock jobs could transform Kenya’s drought-stricken northern lands.
(17) 29 Apr 2012
Five ways to enhance agricultural markets in hungry regions of East and West Africa.
(16) 25 Apr 2012
Recurrent drought can encourage, not kill, pastoralism.
(15) 28 mar 2012
Women playing key role in pastoralist livelihood diversification.
(14) 20 Mar 2012
Livestock herding and resource management: Good (natural, rangeland) bedfellows.
(13) 15 Feb 2012
Policy workshop seeks sustainable practices to preserve livelihoods in Africa’s drylands.
(12) 06 Feb 2012
Belgian veterinary group message to Bill Gates: Herding livestock makes more sense than growing crops in arid lands.
(11) 19 Jan 2012
Putting a price on water: From Mt Kenya forests to Laikipia savannas to Dadaab drylands.
(10) 10 Jan 2012
Kenyan herders cope with drought by buying livestock insurance.
(09) 26 Oct 2011
Short films document first index-based livestock insurance for African herders.
(08) 25 Oct 2012
Livestock director and partners launch first-ever index-based livestock insurance payments in Africa.
(07) 22 Oct 2011
Remote Kenya livestock herders receive their first drought insurance payouts.
(06) 21 Oct 2011
Herders in drought-stricken northern Kenya get first livestock insurance payments.
(05) 24 Aug 2011
Prospects for greater agricultural investments in the Horn?
(04) 24 Aug 2011
Investments in pastoralism offer best hope for combating droughts in East Africa’s drylands–Study.
(03) 07 Aug 2011
Best ways to manage responses to recurring drought in Kenya’s drylands.
(02) 03 Jun 2011
In the crosshairs of hunger and climate change: New ILRI-CCAFS study maps the global hotspots.
(01) 22 Mar 2011
Climate change impacts on pastoralists in the Horn: Transforming the ‘crisis narrative’.

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