Grave concerns persist for some 20 million people in the Sahel. Recurrent conflict, erratic weather patterns, epidemics and other shocks continue to weaken the resilience of households across a region still suffering chronic levels of food insecurity and malnutrition.
An estimated 20.4 million people remain food insecure at the start of 2015. At least 2.6 million people have already crossed the crisis threshold, 70 percent of whom are in Niger, Nigeria, Mali and Chad where insecurity and poverty compound food insecurity.
Epidemics continue to demand urgent attention in 2015. Besides cholera, meningitis, Lassa and yellow fever, more recently, Ebola has been posing a serious threat to the Sahel region and has already impacted Mali, Nigeria, and Mali directly.
Beyond the chronic threats of food insecurity, malnutrition and epidemics, violent conflict in and around the Sahel region has led to a surge in population displacement. The region begins 2015 with some 2.8 million people displaced; over a million more than in early 2014. With escalating conflict in northeast Nigeria, an estimated one million people have been internally displaced. Some 150,000 Nigerian refugees have fled to neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon. The volatile security situation in northern Mali continues to have a devastating impact on civilians, hampering the return of refugees, affecting markets and preventing the full restoration of basic services. Some 133,000 Malian refugees remain in Mauritania, Niger and Burkina Faso and more than 80,000 Malians remain internally displaced. As in Nigeria, high levels of insecurity in northern Mali also greatly impact the ability of humanitarians to access those in need. (Sahel: A call for humanitarian aid, 12 Feb 2015)
Appeals & Funding
- Sahel Strategic Response Plan (SRP) 2015 EN/FR
- Humanitarian Needs Overview EN/FR
- 2014-2016 Strategic Response Plans: Sahel Region EN/FR; Burkina Faso; Cameroon; Chad; Gambia; Mali; Mauritania; Niger; Nigeria; Senegal
Global weather system that plays havoc with weather across the world could exacerbate region’s dry spell and devastate Sahel as it did in 1972
A global weather phenomenon could cause a famine in the Sahel this year by combining with already dry conditions to create a “double whammy” for the region, scientists and aid groups have warned.
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Lucy Lamble presents this edition of the Global development podcast, looking at how the lack of water and sanitation is affecting health centres in Mali. Just 20% of the country's health facilities provide clean water.
Smugglers are taking more illegal migrants through the western Balkans, but the route holds great hardships for a group of west Africans heading for Macedonia
After a 10-day trek over 150km, Sandrine Koffi’s dream of a new life in Europe ended and her nightmare of losing her infant daughter in the Macedonian night began.
After failed peace talks in Algiers, Mali is no closer to resolving the internal upheaval that is often oversimplified as a clear rift between north and south
Access to water is a crisis that can be fixed, says report that calls for it to be a priority in sustainable development goals. We look at Mali, the poorest performer
Lucy Lamble in Diatoula
Boko Haram violence underpins rising death rates among Nigerian citizens, while thousands also killed in Central African Republic, South Sudan and Somalia
The campaign of terror by Nigeria’s Islamist insurgency Boko Haram was responsible for nearly half of all civilian deaths in African war zones last year, according to research that highlights the group’s tactic of targeting non-combatants.
Why are WFP and UNHCR struggling to raise funds for humanitarian emergencies that don’t make the headlines?
It’s been called “disaster overload” – major crises in Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, the Central African Republic (CAR) and the Philippines have left the United Nations’ humanitarian response system reeling. But as media attention gravitates toward the major crises, there’s been little thought to the long tail of the humanitarian system.
By engaging communities and co-ordinating agency efforts, Niger hopes to end its perennial battle against food shortages
Celeste Hicks in Dogo, Monday 17 March 2014 10.33 GMT
Read the full story on the Guardian.
Chad hit by refugee influx from Darfur and Central African Republic as well as return of its citizens expelled from Libya.
Read the full report on the Guardian.
Food programmes aim to help tackle issues caused by flight and displacement, which have left many families without income
At the referral health centre in Gao, northern Mali, Halifatou Alousseini shares a recipe. The 20-year-old mother of three looks almost twice her age, a white headscarf framing a face that is weathered from life in the desert. She explains carefully how to make a nutritious porridge for children from local products, using beans, rice and millet.
Last year, the remote desert city of Gao in northern Mali, was under the control of Tuareg separatists and jihadist fighters. Nine months after French and Malian troops re-took the city, Mark Tran pays a visit.
Rescue plan backed by Unicef and aimed at 500,000 children hampered by teachers kept from the north by jihadist occupation
Read the full report on the Guardian.
Those displaced by climate change are not granted refugee status or protection. Their plight should not be overlooked
Migration has always been a way of life in the Sahel, an arid belt of land that stretches across Africa just south of the Sahara. Many of the region's 100 million inhabitants lived for millennia as nomadic pastoralists who moved with their herds in search of water and pasture.
Majority of Malians who fled war in the north fail to receive voters' cards, leaving them without a voice in Sunday's polls.
Read the full report on the Guardian.
How combining health and nutrition programmes can save lives and help children grow, even in the most difficult places
by Marie-Pierre Allié
Nutrition treatments have made huge developments in the past few years. The advent of highly nutritious ready-to-use therapeutic foods [RUTF] have made it possible to save millions of children from the severest forms of malnutrition.
There's a received wisdom that tree stumps, shoots and bushes should be cleared from a field before planting crops. It seems logical, but the experience of farmers in southern Niger suggests otherwise. There, the practice of Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) has been found to significantly improve soil quality and crop yields, along with additional resources and income from tree products.
Those working to combat food insecurity in the Sahel need to "get their thinking together" and realise that it could take several years for the poorest families to recover from three successive regional droughts and hunger crises, says the new regional co-ordinator of the World Food Programme (WFP).
On the banks of the river Niger at the Koriame Port, 18km (11 miles) from Timbuktu, Kadja Founè Koninta recounts the birth of her daughter. It was during the occupation of northern Mali by Islamist rebels, she explains, and she – together with her family of fishermen – had just arrived at Koriame when she unexpectedly went into labour. "I gave birth the same day we arrived," she said. "People said it was because of fear."
WFP says 2012's good harvest in Sahel not enough to alleviate deep-rooted poverty, as millions more face hunger this year
Tuareg rebels are capitalising on fighting in Mali to reacquire former captives whom they regard as their property from birth
Celeste Hicks in Bamako
"I haven't heard anything about my brother for more than a year," says Raichatou Walet Touka. She's been living at a safehouse in Bamako, Mali's capital, after fleeing the northern town of Gao following an attack by the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), a Tuareg rebel group that briefly took over northern Mali in early 2012.