Sahel: FAO calls for emergency support to fight food insecurity

Sahel: FAO calls for emergency support to fight food insecurity

13/02/2015

About 20 million people are still affected by food insecurity in the Sahel, and are likely to see their situation deteriorate rapidly in 2015. Among them, 2.6 million people already require urgent food assistance.

In a context of chronic food insecurity, poor harvests and pasture deficits in 2014 in localized areas of coastal countries and the Sahelian band have a direct impact on food security. This will lead to the early depletion of food stocks and livestock degradation for the most vulnerable families in the next two to three months. In order to satisfy their most urgent needs, they will turn to survival strategies such as contracting debts, reducing the number of daily meals and selling productive assets, thus depleting their scarce resources.

Population displacements due to insecurity and conflicts in the Central African Republic, Mali and Nigeria exacerbate this precarious situation. In Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Nigeria, Mali and Mauritania, nearly 3 million people are deprived of their livelihoods and no longer have access to adequate food. Displaced people and refugees often rely on the limited food reserves and resources of their host communities. The unusual movements of herders and agro-pastoralists are also likely to lead to increased competition over natural resources and cultivated areas, increasing the risk of conflict between communities.

In order to prevent a further deterioration and respond efficiently to the growing food insecurity in the region, an immediate support to the livelihoods of communities relying on agriculture is needed. In 2015 and in the framework of the United Nations Strategic Response Plan for the Sahel, FAO is appealing for a total of USD 116 million to assist more than 5,4 million people.

The proposed activities are designed to enable the most vulnerable people, including IDPs and their host communities to continue produce their food and maintain their income. The most urgent priority is to ensure that farmers are provided with time-critical inputs for cereal production during the next planting season due to start in May. The provision of veterinary care and animal feed will also be crucial to prevent animal losses during the pastoral lean season.

‘By taking immediate measures to protect and support agriculture, partners have the opportunity to help people recover from crises with dignity and prevent the degradation of livelihoods in the Sahel. Immediate support is required for this extraordinary assistance in a context of growing insecurity that lead to important population displacements and reduces humanitarian access.” said Vincent Martin, Head of Sub-Regional Hub for Resilience and emergencies in West Africa/Sahel (REOWA).

FAO also aims to address the underlying causes of vulnerability to enhance the resilience of populations in the region, with activities such as the production of varieties of seeds adapted to climate change, or the rehabilitation of degraded land. Support to food security analysis and early warning will also be crucial to help countries and communities prepare to risk and future shocks, and improve the resilience of food and agricultural systems in the Sahel.

In 2014, FAO provided immediate assistance to more than 3 million farmers and herders in the Sahel to strengthen their food security and nutrition.