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Race is on to help farmers and herders in drought-stricken Sahel

Mar 2012

Federica Damiani of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) talks about food insecurity in the Sahel region of Africa. Several countries in the Sahel need urgent support to prevent a full-blown food and nutrition security crisis and to protect and restore livelihoods of communities dependent on livestock and crops, according to FAO.

The agency is calling for at least $ 69.8 million in additional funding to provide assistance to 790 000 vulnerable farming and herding households, who have been caught in a cycle of recurring food crises. At least 15 million people are estimated to be at risk of food insecurity in the Sahel, in part due to localized, but significant, declines in agropastoral production.

The looming crisis is due to a combination of factors, including drought; sharp declines in cereal production and high grain prices; a shortage of fodder for livestock; a reduction in remittances from migrant workers in several countries; environmental degradation; displacement; and chronic poverty deepened by chronic crisis.