Ending the Everyday Emergency: Resilience and children in the Sahel
Millions in West Africa now living through permanent food crises, aid agency says
New report finds family’s ability to withstand shocks lies at heart of persistent food crises
Governments and donors must act now to save more than one million children at risk in the Sahel
Make improved nutrition in children the benchmark for success in all programmes, says World Vision
17 July -- A lack of ability to access, grow and store food year after year means millions of children in West Africa now live in a state of permanent food crisis, a new report published today finds.
“Ending the Everyday Emergency”, a study by World Vision, highlights the underlying factors in West Africa that are contributing to the food crisis putting more than one million children at risk of severe malnutrition this summer. It also identifies the opportunities being missed by governments to fix them.
“At the heart of this crisis is a lack of resilience among families,” said World Vision’s Chris Shore, Director of Natural Environment and Climate Issues.
“Hit by food crises in 2005, 2008 and 2010, families in parts of West Africa have not been able to get out of debt, restore their granaries or rebuild their herds. Combined with the failure of recent harvests, this has made the 2012 crisis a shock too far for most families, leading to even more chronic and acute malnutrition in children under the age of five.
“We need to see a united approach to tackling this, and ending recurring malnutrition among children in West Africa, starting today and continuing after this crises falls out of the public eye,” said Shore.
Even in a non-crisis year, children in parts of West Africa face the deadly and debilitating effects of malnutrition at higher rates than many others around the world.
“This ongoing tragedy is rooted in long-term structural causes that are really tough to overcome, but we have to draw attention to that because it’s the only way to end children’s suffering,” said Shore.
The report highlights the benefits of how taking a comprehensive approach to resilience can improve child well being, and move the Sahel towards zero hunger, and zero malnutrition.
“Evidence from Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali indicates that new, low-cost agricultural techniques can dramatically improve small-scale farming, enabling poorer families to increase production of food crops and income,” said Shore.
“Making nutrition the ultimate measure of success or failure for all food-related and resilience programmes in West Africa is the single best step governments and donors could take to improve the lives of children.”
Notes to editors:
Ending the Everyday Emergency will be presented to key UK stakeholders at the World Vision offices in London on Tuesday, 17 July, at 2pm, and will be the topic of a panel discussion at the UN on Wednesday evening, 18 July. For more information, contact Tennille Bergin firstname.lastname@example.org
For interviews with spokespeople in West Africa, or Chris Shore, contact Tennille Bergin
World Vision, as part of its global Child Health Now campaign, commissioned the report with Save the Children to look into the underlying factors contributing to the chronic food crises in parts of West Africa
Specific recommendations from the report:
o Make Reduction of Child Under-Nutrition Central to Resilience, through coordinated national plans especially prioritising children under two and pregnant women
o Harness Small-Scale Agriculture for resilience and Improved Nutrition, ensuring sustainability and resilience and not just an increase in production
o Invest in Social Protection and Services for the Poorest Households, particularly for house-holds that are chronically food-insecure as distinct from those periodically suffering from shocks.
o Develop A New Plan For How The National Governments, International Donors, And Agencies Should Work Together To Prevent Hunger Crises, breaking down the barriers between development and humanitarian approaches, between ‘normal’ and ‘crisis’ responses.