Sahel (MAA61004) Annual Report 2012

Overview

Daily life in the Sahel region is filled with challenges posed by small and large disasters. The Sahel region has been suffering from alternating droughts that have been so persistent with millions of people deprived of basic food necessities. Indeed, over 18 million people in Chad, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Niger, Mali, Mauritania and Senegal face severe food shortages. Erratic rainfall, droughts and insect infestations have led to poor harvests and have caused malnutrition particularly among women and children. More than one million children are at risk of severe acute malnutrition and three million children are at risk of moderate acute malnutrition. It is not just climate related factors that have contributing to this food insecurity. Food and petrol prices have increased sharply; in December 2011 corn prices in the Sahel were 60% to 85% above the five-year average. Remittance sent home from those working abroad have at the same time sharply dropped, in part due to the political crises in North Africa and economic crises in the West.

The conflict in northern Mali in early 2012 has contributed to increase the hardship on both refugees from Mali and the host communities of the neighbouring countries. Seven food insecurity emergency appeals were launched for these affected countries applying a twin-track approach that provides emergency food or cash vouchers and treating acutely malnourished children while helping communities and families improve their income through appropriate farming practices, improved seed distribution, through the promotion of nutritional and hygiene practices and the development of small business schemes. The food crisis situation has been sometimes compounded by flooding (in Niger, Senegal and Chad) or other types of disasters: population movement in Burkina Faso and Mauritania, civil unrest in Senegal.

However many of these disasters are of the recurring type and can be predicted and mitigated if anticipated and adequately addressed; hence the training program which resulted from a cooperation between the IFRC and Irish Aid. Indeed, the Sahel Region Representation in partnership with Irish Aid supported Guinea Bissau and the Gambia National Societies in training their volunteers in preparedness to response to disasters. This capacity building program aims at establishing/strengthening capacities of national and local Red Cross and Red Crescent teams in disaster management within the communities often let by their own, during emergency with disastrous human and material consequences.