Responding to calls for assistance from the Sahel countries, which are affected by the looming food crisis, the European Union's Humanitarian Aid Commissioner, Kristalina Georgieva, visits this week Niger and Chad, two of the five Sahel countries (including Burkina Faso, Mali and Mauritania) most at risk of major food shortages over the coming months. "This is the third time in a decade that this region has fallen into crisis. Every year we save more than 200,000 children from severe acute malnutrition but we must and will go further", she has said.
The Commissioner has stressed that, as in the last major crisis in 2010, by anticipating the worst effects of the looming food shortages and acting before they strike more lives would be saved. Kristalina Georgieva will be evaluating humanitarian needs with the authorities and the European Commission's current response to the crisis as well as identifying the potential needs for further assistance.
Commissioner Georgieva highlights that the Commission has provided more than €225 million since 2005. However the main objective is to break the cycle of hunger. “We are working closely with other agencies to build a comprehensive aid strategy to cover both the short and long-term actions required to make malnutrition history", she states.
Because crops failed in last September's harvest the annual 'lean season' – when food reserves have dwindled – will begin next month instead of June. Seven million people are already facing shortages. Food prices have already risen by 40 per cent, with some forecasts predicting that they will triple with the onset of the lean season.
Most people who live in the Sahel are heavily dependent on rain-fed agriculture and livestock for survival. Food production deficits are as high as 52% in comparison to last year while an estimated 1.3 million children in the region are currently suffering from acute severe malnutrition.
Source: European Commission