Countries in West Africa and the Sahel
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West Africa and Sahel Programme
Every year, countries of the West Africa and the Sahel sub-region are adversely affected by natural disasters such as droughts and floods, as well as transboundary animal diseases, economic crises and civil conflicts. These shocks negatively impact access and availability of food. Malnutrition rates remain at critical levels in many West African countries.
Food insecurity is a major concern for the majority of the population, particularly as regional indicators show livelihood options are diminishing. In 2010, more than 11 million people were affected by the pastoral and food security crisis in eastern Sahel, as well as record floods. In 2011, following post–election violence in Côte d’Ivoire, an estimated one million people were displaced in the country and up to 150 000 people fled to Liberia, placing massive strain on the already meager resources of host villages. In 2012, more than 18 million people were affected by a severe food and nutrition crisis in the Sahel (Burkina Faso, the Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, the Niger, Senegal and Chad), and the humanitarian and security situation in Mali rapidly deteriorated due to fighting.
Food security and livelihoods challenges in 2013
Despite good harvest prospects and good conditions for pastoralists, the situation in the Sahel remains critical. Approximately 10.3 million people remain food insecure and over 1 million children are at risk of severe acute malnutrition in 2013.
The humanitarian and security situation in Mali is still deteriorating, due to the conflict in the northern part of the country, with serious repercussions on the region and beyond. As of March 2013, nearly half a million people have left their home due to the conflict. More than 170 000 people have crossed the borders to neighbouring countries, primarily Burkina Faso, Mauritania and the Niger. Food security experts have warned of severe food insecurity prevailing in the northern regions, which is likely to worsen in the coming months.
With the recurrence and complexity of crises in the Sahel, FAO put a strategic framework in place to adequately resolve the challenges of the region and that is in line with FAO’s global strategy on disaster risk reduction linked to food and nutrition security. The framework aims at integrating a regional approach, focused on vulnerable population’s livelihoods and disaster risk management and reduction. It is meant to be a long-term and sustainable strategy to support the resilience of people, communities, systems, institutions and ecosystems.
For 2013, FAO has renewed its commitment to zero hunger in the Sahel through rapid scaling-up measures to meet the immediate nutritional needs of those at-risk, while building longer-term resilience by tackling the root causes of hunger. The Organization is appealing for a total of USD 135.3 million to support almost 6 million people, including those that could be affected by the Malian conflict.
FAO’s role in Disaster Risk Management (DRM) in West Africa/Sahel
FAO’s DRM programme in West Africa and the Sahel seeks to protect, reinforce and restore the livelihoods and food security of the most vulnerable populations affected by slow or sudden onset crises, in collaboration with national and regional partners.
In order to support FAO’s DRM work in the region, the Sub-Regional Emergency and Rehabilitation Office-West Africa/Sahel (REOWA) was created in Dakar in 2006. The Office provides strategic guidance for FAO’s DRM field operations and acts as liaison and facilitator between FAO’s offices and the humanitarian network in the region.
The main functions of the office are to:
- Liaise, exchange information and coordinate FAO’s DRM activities with regional humanitarian partners and inter-governmental bodies and donors (sahel strategy, performance indicators, etc.);
- Monitor food security in the region by undertaking joint evaluations of food security, agricultural production and agricultural markets with UN partners, the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS), FEWSNET and other national and regional partners;
- Supporting the development and strengthening of tools to analyse vulnerability to food insecurity (Cadre Harmonisé [CH] and Integrated Food Security Phase Classification [IPC]);
- Liaise with and provide strategic, operational and technical support on DRM issues, when needed, to FAO country teams in West Africa and the Sahel as well as to FAO’s regional Office for Africa in Accra (best practises and lessons learned sharing);
- Fundraising and implementation of regional projects.