The combined threat of drought, high food prices, displacement and chronic poverty is affecting millions of people in 2012 as a new food crisis emerges across the Sahel Region. Food insecurity and malnutrition are recurrent in the region with more than 16 million people directly at risk this year.
Drought has reduced Sahelian cereal production by 26 percent as compared to last year, Chad and Gambia are experiencing 50 percent decreases and other countries are suffering serious localized deficits.
Severe fodder shortages are leading to early transhumance and changing livestock corridors, causing tensions to rise between communities and at border areas.
The situation is compounded by high food prices and a decrease in remittances owing to the global economic crisis and the return of migrants from Libya. The deteriorating security situation in Northern areas of the Sahel is further aggravating the situation.
The overall priorities in the region include: protecting the livelihoods of the most vulnerable households; strengthening the resilience of pastoralists, agro pastoralists and farmers; support the management/conservation of natural resources such as water, trees and soil; provide integrated emergency nutrition assistance to most vulnerable families, especially women; reinforce disaster risk reduction and management at local, national and regional levels; supporting coordination and strengthening food security information management and early warning systems.
Early, rapid action is needed to prevent further deterioration of the food security situation and avoid a full-scale food and nutrition crisis. In addition to emergency and rehabilitation activities, medium to longer term interventions are required to reverse the cycle of food shortages and crises in the Sahel and address structural vulnerabilities.
On 15 December 2011, Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) launched a strategy to better respond to the risk of a new food and nutritional crisis in the Sahel in 2012 Preparation for a food and nutrition crisis in the Sahel and neighboring countries. This document, jointly prepared by Action Against Hunger, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP) on behalf of the IASC Regional Food Security and Nutrition Working Group, was updated on 6 February 2012. A third update is currently under preparation. It provides detailed data on funding needs by country.
Within this broader IASC strategic framework, FAO is currently preparing a Regional Response Programme to the Food and Nutrition Security Crisis in the Sahel to define FAO’s priority response interventions in the subregion, linking action in a continuum from emergency to recovery and development, focusing on protecting, restoring and building resilient livelihoods of vulnerable farmers and herders.