Executive Brief: The Sahel Crisis 2012 (6 July 2012)
• A food and nutrition crisis is affecting millions of people across the Sahel Region of Western Africa this year, due to a combination of drought, high grain prices, decrease in remittances, environmental degradation and population displacement coupled with chronic poverty and vulnerability.
• 18.7 million people are facing food insecurity (including 1.6 million in northern Mali) and more than 1 million children under the age of five are at risk of severe acute malnutrition.
• The Food Crisis Prevention Network Meeting held in Paris (RPCA, April 2012) has confirmed that Sahel cereal production is 26 percent lower than last year.
• The humanitarian situation, in particular for pastoralists, is a matter of deep concern as insecurity worsens in Mali and the food supply is disrupted. Extreme food insecurity hit Gao Region and cannot be excluded in Kidal and Timbuktu Regions.
• Early warning (launched by FAO in October 2011) was not followed by early funding and response. Only rapid action will prevent further deterioration of the food security situation and avoid a full-scale crisis.
• In late March 2012, FAO launched an alert on the risk of locust swarms in Niger and Mali. Groups of locust are present in northern Niger and Mali, and a few groups reached pastoral areas in central Niger.
• The timing of livelihood support interventions in agriculture and livestock sectors is essential. The lean season is starting and we are at the peak of the crisis. The planting period of the main agricultural campaign is ongoing in most of the countries but much more can be done until the end of 2012. Funds are needed now to support herders through fodder, veterinary services activities before the rainy season as well as restocking. It is also crucial to support the preparation of the off-season through market gardening activities.
• Alarming lack of funds: FAO is requesting USD 112 million for action in 2012 to support almost 8 million people. A funding gap of USD 83 million remains.
• Locust threat: FAO is requesting and additional amount of USD 10 million for action in 2012, out of which an amount of USD 2.5 million is needed urgently.
• In addition to emergency and rehabilitation activities geared to protect and restore resilience, medium and longer term interventions are planned to address structural vulnerabilities and reverse the cycle of food shortages and crises in the Sahel.