In the Sahel, conflict, food insecurity, malnutrition, epidemics and natural disasters remain the key drivers of humanitarian needs in the region, with 4.9 million children under the age of five suffering from acute malnutrition and 6.2 million people severely food insecure. As a result of Boko Haram-related violence, approximately 5 million people (the displaced and their hosts) are food insecure in the Lake Chad basin (Cameroon, Chad, the Niger and Nigeria). Nearly 2.5 million people are displaced, including 2.1 million in Nigeria – the continent’s second-largest displacement crisis. The food security situation has also deteriorated in northern Mali, mainly due to poor agropastoral seasons, insecurity and population movements.
While various countries in the Sahel experienced adequate rainfall and better harvests, flooding has affected over 300 000 people in Burkina Faso, the Niger and Nigeria. There are also concerns that the rain-rejuvenated vegetation could create favourable breeding conditions for desert locusts in certain areas. Recurrent disease epidemics such as cholera, measles and meningitis, as well as endemic diseases like malaria, continue to pose health challenges across the Sahel. Herd movements are hampered by insecurity, with poor access to fodder resources and water points in some areas of northern Mali and the Lake Chad basin.
Given the deterioration of the livelihoods of vulnerable communities, early depletion of their stocks, localized increase of food prices, disruption of trade, and food and nutrition crises, the situation of the Sahel for 2016 remains of concern. If we fail to respond in time, the 6.2 million people suffering from severe food insecurity might experience extreme food deficits. Providing timely agricultural and livelihood support is crucial to strengthen the resilience of vulnerable populations to climate hazards, animal diseases and conflict.
Repeated attacks from Boko Haram have led to massive displacements and negatively impacted livelihoods in northeastern Nigeria. A large number of displaced people have found refuge in Adamawa, one of the three states most affected by the crisis. In Yola South, Joda Saliou, a mother of nine children who cultivates a small plot of land to feed her family, saw her situation suddenly deteriorate in 2015. Some weeks after, some of her relatives coming from Michika and Mubi settled with them, her husband lost his income as a brick layer following the local economic downturn caused by insecurity. The family rapidly ran down their small savings and were forced to borrow money to cover their basic needs. The assistance provided by FAO has saved the family from this critical situation. During the lean season, Joda’s relatives received monthly food baskets that enabled them to cover their food needs. She also received the cowpea and maize seeds she lacked to cultivate her plot, and is now able to feed the whole family for the next two to three months.