Executive Brief: The Sahel Crisis 2012 (8 June 2012)


  • A new 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, displacement of population coupled with chronic poverty and vulnerability.

  • More than 19 million people are facing food insecurity (also 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 very deep concern as insecurity worsens in Mali and food supply is disrupted. Extreme food insecurity cannot be excluded if this situation lasts two additional months.

  • Early warning (already launched by FAO in October 2011) was not followed by early funding and response. Only rapid action would prevent further deterioration of the food security situation and avoid a full-scale crisis.

  • The timing of livelihood support interventions in agriculture and livestock sectors is essential. Funds are needed now to support vulnerable farmers with food crops seeds for the main planting season, which begins May/June 2012 and to strengthen herders through fodder, veterinary services and destocking activities before the rainy season. It is also crucial to support the preparation of the off-season through market gardening activities and the restocking of affected herders;

  • Alarming lack of funds: FAO is requesting USD 103 million for action in 2012 to support the resilience of more than 7 million people. A funding gap of more than USD 75 million remains.

  • 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.