Burkina Faso + 3 more

The food crisis is severely disrupting children's education in the Sahel

Educo alerts that the food crisis that is taking place in the Sahel region is having serious consequences for children’s education. As well as affecting children’s health and wellbeing, the difficulty they have accessing food, impacts their ability to learn. “A child who is hungry is a child who, obviously, cannot keep up in class”, says Constance Hien, the head teacher at the Tasmin school in Ouahigouya, in Burkina Faso. Hien explains that children are struggling to be able to eat once a day, but thanks to the existence of the school canteen, everyone who attends the school can have one guaranteed daily meal. The school canteen is also a strong incentive for staying in school. The food crisis, combined with the severe security crisis, has led to an increase in school dropouts and dropout rates.

Since 2012, the African part of Sahel, and in particular the border areas of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso have been struggling with a grave crisis caused by several factors, primarily armed conflicts and the consequences of climate change, as well as long periods of draught and severe flooding. The war in Ukraine, which has resulted in a 20% rise in the price of supplies and increased shortages of basic foodstuffs, has worsened a situation that the population, especially children, has been grappling with for years. More than 2.5 million people have been forced to flee from their countries or move to safer areas within the region, where they can still grow food, according to data from the United Nations.

In Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali, countries that Educo develops projects in, more than 10 million people do not have access to the most basic food necessary for survival. “Education in an emergency situation such as the one the Sahel is going through is closely related to nutrition. In order to ensure educational continuity, children must be fed so that they can attend classes in a context that is already difficult enough," says Edouard Ndeye, director of the Sahel region of the NGO, who assures that "this is why we are sounding the alarm, in order to increase humanitarian aid funding in this part of the central Sahel".

Educo is convinced that education in emergencies heals, protects and is a basic right. The NGO defends not just that education is necessary, but that education is urgent. For this reason, faced with any emergency and the need for humanitarian aid, it must be a priority. After all, education is not just about teaching sums, grammar or natural sciences on a blackboard in a classroom. Education is much more. “Education is the best tool for ending social inequality and for children to have the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty”, says Ndeye. For this reason, Educo works to ensure that children and adolescents have safe spaces in which they can learn, but also play and interact, while being protected. Because by guaranteeing children's right to education, we will be able to eradicate the basic problems of our society in order to make it fairer and more equitable.

Educo has developed projects in countries in this area since 2001. These include school canteens, which provide at least one full meal a day for the children who attend. This activity facilitates fighting against the problem of food insecurity, but it is also a mechanism for encouraging school attendance and makes dropping out more difficult. It also means that students do not have to walk long distances various times a day.

The NGO has launched the campaign Hunger Crisis in the Sahel, the aim of which is to highlight the existing problem and raise money to help the millions of children and adolescents affected by this crisis.

About Educo:
Educo is a global development NGO focused on education child protection and child participation, which works in 14 countries carrying out projects in which more than 1.6 million children and young people participate.

For more information:
Maria Lopez Vivas (Press) maria.vivas@educo.org Tel: 660659172