Burkina Faso + 4 more

Sahelian West Africa - Humanitarian Emergency Fact Sheet #6, Fiscal Year (FY) 2005


Note: The last fact sheet was dated September 2, 2005.

Affected population - Niger
Government of Niger, August 19, 2005
Affected population - Mali
WFP(1), August 5, 2005
Affected population - Mauritania
WFP, August 5, 2005
Affected population - Burkina Faso
WFP, August 5, 2005
Total Affected Population(2)

Total FY 2005 USAID Assistance to Niger, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Senegal, and Sahel Regional Locust Response: $134,098,006


Niger Update

The USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team (USAID/DART) Livelihoods Specialist and Food Aid Officer traveled to Maradi Region from September 5 to 6 to meet with USAID implementing partner World Vision, which has completed the first tranche of the U.N. World Food Program (WFP) food distributions and is preparing for second tranche distributions to begin in one to two weeks. World Vision anticipates completing all general distribution activities prior to the upcoming harvest.

World Vision is conducting WFP general distribution activities outside of their normal operating areas, which have fared better in response to this year's series of shocks than surrounding communities. Remaining short-, middle-, and long-term needs include support to cereal banks, cash-for-work activities, micro-credit programs, and health and hygiene promotion.

The USAID/DART Trade and Investment Specialist assessed Niger’s role in regional food markets and the role these markets played in the current food and nutrition crisis. Due to poor agricultural production, cereal prices were higher than normal in 2005, reducing households’ purchasing power and the availability of imported food in Nigerien markets. The lack of attractive prices and profitable transactions, rather than unofficial export bans imposed by the Government of Burkina Faso, resulted in the negligible movement of agricultural commodities between Burkina Faso and Niger during the past year.

On September 2, the bypass at the washed-out bridge in Guene, Benin also washed out. This bypass was a key transit point for relief commodities entering Niger from the port of Cotonou. Lines of vehicles several kilometers long formed on both sides of the bridge. On September 8, the temporary bypass was re-opened for heavy trucks, and WFP plans to install a baily bridge within six weeks.

Partially funded by USAID, the WFP Humanitarian Air Service (HAS) began service on August 29. WFP HAS typically operates flights four days a week between Niamey, Maradi, Zinder, Tahoua, and Agadez. From August 29 to 31, WFP HAS transported 12 passengers and 300 kg of humanitarian cargo.

The Government of Niger’s Ministry of Health (MOH) and the U.N. World Health Organization (WHO) continue to closely monitor outbreaks of communicable diseases. The MOH National Health Surveillance System coordinates health reporting and compiles nationwide health data. The data reported, however, may not be representative of health conditions throughout the country. Malaria remains a major cause of morbidity and mortality, with nearly 20,000 cases reported in the first week of September. However, this number is significantly lower than the caseloads of 2003 and 2004.

Mali Update

The USAID/DART in Mali traveled through Kidal Region from September 5 to 9 to perform an assessment of the food security situation in the area. On September 8, the USAID/DART traveled to Aguelhok to visit a therapeutic feeding program run by Action Contre la Faim (ACF) that is currently serving two severely malnourished children. While in Aguelhok, the USAID/DART met with the town’s mayor, who stated that his top priority for Aguelhok is replenishing herds depleted by the recent fodder shortage.

On September 7, the USAID/DART held meetings in Kidal with WFP and NGOs, including ACF, Norwegian Church Aid (NCA), and several local NGOs. On September 6, the USAID/DART traveled from Kidal town to Abeibara to conduct an assessment.

From August 26 to 28, the Assistant Administrator of USAID’s Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistant, Michael Hess, traveled with the USAID/DART through Bourem district in Gao Region, a structurally poor area that was especially hard hit by the effects of drought and livestock losses this year. On August 27, the delegation stopped at the health center in Hamakouladji where women and children had gathered to receive supplementary rations for malnourished children. The USAID/DART noted that the health center was providing instructions on the proper way to mix the enriched flour, sugar, and oil they received from WFP. Health center staffers stated that in July, 125 children were screened for malnutrition, of whom 5 were severely malnourished, 40 were moderately malnourished, 41 slightly malnourished, and 39 in good nutritional status.

While in Hamakouladji, USAID/DART representatives discussed a food-for-work (FFW) program, operated in conjunction with WFP, with representatives of the local NGO running the program. This program is structured such that WFP provides the food commodities and the local NGO manages the activities. Through this program, men and women participants build gravity-fed irrigation channels and receive 2.5 to 5 kg of grain per person per day in return. The local NGO reported that the program has grown significantly since its inception.

On August 26, the USAID/DART met with the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) representative in Mali. In late 2004, the locust emergency combined with drought caused alarm among authorities in the Government of Mali, and media sources began spreading the message that a famine was looming. This negatively impacted market functions and pushed commodity prices higher than ever before. Simultaneously, producers held back reserves, difficulties in Côte D’Ivoire stopped corn imports from entering Mali, and higher purchasing power in neighboring countries caused private regional cereal exporters to sell grains for higher prices abroad. In addition, fuel prices, at all-time highs, increased transportation costs to remote areas. These and other factors contributed to the current situation in Mali.

Burkina Faso Update

From August 30 to 31, the USAID/DART and a U.S. Embassy representative conducted a field assessment to Thou, Yatenga Province, and Banh, Loroum Province, in the northern region of Burkina Faso. The team noted that food security in Banh was precarious as villagers expect this year’s harvest to produce only three months’ worth of food. USAID/DART assessments showed that water retention structures, better management of available water, and cereal banks are needed to improve communities’ resilience to future food security shocks.

From August 24 to 27, the USAID/DART conducted a field assessment in Burkina Faso’s Northern and Sahel regions. The primary source of income in the provinces visited is agriculture, and secondary sources of income include raising livestock, gardening, and trade. Although the food security situation is not approaching emergency levels, village residents stated that the food situation is much worse now than at the same time last year.

Inadequate availability of and access to cereals have contributed to the current localized food crisis in Burkina Faso. A report published in October 2004 by the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS), the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), FEWS NET, and WFP discusses the factors that curtailed food availability. Significant farm level, commercial, and security cereal stocks were available until August 2004. In the southern and western parts of the country, large amounts of stocks were available, and traders from Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana purchased much of these stocks because regions of both of these countries experienced droughts in 2004. In October 2004, farm level stocks in some regions were low, and prices started to increase more rapidly than is normal prior to the harvest. The poor integration of Burkina Faso’s markets and extremely low output in the north were expected to drive down food availability on the national level.

Access to food also contributed to the current localized food crisis in Burkina Faso. According to the joint assessment report, in the southern part of Burkina Faso in 2004/2005, access to food was expected to be favorable due to existing stocks and a promising harvest. The northern parts of the country, however, experienced rapid price increases beginning in mid-September 2004. At the same time, livestock prices dropped by 50 percent. The report predicted a severe decline in food security in the Sahel Region by December 2004.

Malnutrition in children under five years of age in Burkina Faso is a complex phenomenon that is not linked to agricultural production. Preliminary results from a meta analysis by WFP, the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the Institute for Research and Development indicate that diet is not the primary cause of malnutrition in Burkina Faso. Factors that are strongly correlated to malnutrition include the mother’s education level, poor weaning practices, lack of access to clean drinking water, and precarious health status with frequent malaria and/or diarrheal disease episodes in the two weeks prior to the survey.

Mauritania Update

From August 29 to September 4, the USAID/DART traveled over 1,500 kilometers in southwestern and southeastern Mauritania, from Nouakchott to Bassikinou. Due to rains that began in July, pastures are green and grazing conditions are good. Rainfall amounts were normal in August. If the rainy season is average or above average, grazing conditions will be very good. The USAID/DART observed numerous camels, goats, and cows, and they reported that the animals appeared healthy. In parts of Mauritania, the planting season has begun, and sorghum and millet plants are more than one foot high. The area planted is less than normal, however, due to reduced access to seeds.

On August 27 and 28, the USAID/DART traveled to Rosso, a city in the Trarza Region of southwest Mauritania. In early August, the first rains of the season flooded a portion of Rosso, affecting approximately 10,000 people. City officials, the military, and the National Food Security Commission (CSA) have provided food, water, medical attention, and temporary shelter to affected populations.

On August 29, FEWS NET reported that approximately 1.8 million people in Mauritania were considered food insecure as a result of locusts and drought in 2004. In mid-August, approximately 500,000 of the 1.2 million people identified as vulnerable were receiving assistance from at least one emergency relief agency. Emergency operations for an additional 700,000 persons have been hampered by recent heavy rainfall that washed out roads and prevented access to affected areas. Serious food security problems persist, in particular among the poor agricultural households of the Aftout, the southeast of the two Hodhs, and the river valley, as well as in the agropastoral and pastoral households affected by poor terms of trade and five years of poor agricultural production.


Regional Response

The USAID-supported West Africa Regional Program (WARP) handles West African development challenges that are most effectively addressed at a regional level. WARP works closely with USAID missions in the region, including USAID's bilateral missions in Mali and Senegal, and U.S. embassies in countries where USAID does not have a mission. The Sahelian countries benefit from WARP through their membership in such organizations as the West African Economic and Monetary Union, the Economic Community of West African States, and CILSS. WARP supports activities in 19 West African countries, including Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, and Niger. WARP representatives are currently working in the region to develop strategies to control market fluctuation and implement near-term market interventions.

In response to the 2004/2005 locust infestation, USAID provided nearly $14 million to support locust control efforts throughout Sahelian West Africa in FY 2005. Through a grant to FAO, USAID supported agricultural relief and recovery programs, including the provision of livestock feed support and agricultural inputs for dry season gardening activities, in Niger. USAID provided support to the Government of Mali for combating the locust infestation, providing pesticides, and funding related control activities. In Mauritania and Senegal, USAID supported locust prevention and response activities, including an aerial spraying campaign.


USAID has provided more than $19 million in assistance to Niger to date in FY 2005. These funds have supported food security and agriculture projects, emergency and development food assistance, and airlifts of fortified food for emergency nutrition programs. USAID assistance funds programs focused on community-based development, child survival and health, youth, and human rights. USAID has also provided 12,230 MT of development food assistance and 7,860 MT of emergency food assistance to Niger in FY 2005.


To date in FY 2005, USAID has provided more than $39 million in assistance to Mali. In FY 2005, USAID has provided 1,710 MT of development food commodities and 1,000 MT of emergency food commodities to Mali. Additionally, USAID’s development program in Mali works to expand economic opportunities, particularly for the rural poor; provides high impact health services to improve the health and welfare of women and children; mitigates the spread of HIV/AIDS; improves the quality of basic education; consolidates democracy through support of decentralization; supports human rights; and accelerates overall development by making information more widely accessible.


To date in FY 2005, USAID has provided more than $16 million to various programs in Mauritania. USAID activities in Mauritania primarily focus on improving food security. USAID has provided 19,330 MT of development food assistance and 16,240 MT of emergency food assistance to Mauritania in FY 2005. USAID also funded programs addressing human rights and community-based development activities.

Burkina Faso

USAID has provided approximately $18 million in assistance to date in FY 2005. USAID focuses the majority of its assistance to Burkina Faso on improving food security. In FY 2005, USAID has provided 24,240 MT of development food commodities. USAID also funds programs that support local human rights, community-based development activities, political party development, and technical assistance for elections.


To date in FY 2005, USAID has provided nearly $31 million to Senegal. USAID activities in Senegal focus largely on the sectors of health, economic growth, agriculture, and education. USAID has provided 4,390 MT of development food assistance to Senegal in FY 2005.


In 2004, an early end to the rains and desert locust damage to pasture lands adversely affected pasture availability and cereal production in Sahelian West Africa. These events exacerbated existing poverty and vulnerabilities and resulted in elevated food insecurity in agro-pastoral and pastoral zones in Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Mauritania. The situation in Niger is considered to be an emergency, with more than 2.7 million people affected. In Burkina Faso, Mali, and Mauritania, more than 2 million people are affected, and the situation in these countries warrants close monitoring.

Regional assessments have used the word "affected" to impart that this population was impacted in some way by either locust infestation or the early cessation of rains. Affected populations have varying levels of humanitarian needs. Some may require food distributions, while others may require little or no assistance of any kind. USAID recognizes that endemic poverty and underdevelopment are critical factors contributing to the current humanitarian emergency and is committed to addressing these factors through an appropriate combination of USAID development and humanitarian assistance.

According to the USAID-funded FEWS NET, recent assessments continue to show consistent rainfall and good crop and pasture conditions in most of Niger and almost all of the rest of Sahelian West Africa. The short-term outlook for these conditions is for steady improvement. Prospects for crop harvests in Niger and the rest of the Sahel are generally good to excellent, with the exception of certain areas in the pastoral zone of the Tillaberi and western Tahoua regions in Niger; these zones had intermittent rains and an extended dry spell this year. Loss of assets or livestock over the past year may result in continued vulnerability for some families beyond the harvest.

In response to the humanitarian emergency, USAID deployed a USAID/DART to Sahelian West Africa on August 3, 2005. USAID/DART staff include public health and nutrition specialists, a water and sanitation specialist, food aid officers, and information officers. Additional USAID/DART members already in the region include regional advisors for North and West Africa, a development officer, and a FEWS NET representative. On August 11, USAID activated a Response Management Team (RMT) in Washington, D.C. to assist the USAID/DART.

FAO reported on August 25 that low numbers of scattered solitarious adult locusts have been found in Mauritania, Mali, and Niger, and reports of limited locust breeding have come from Mauritania. Ground surveys supplemented by helicopters are underway in the Sahel to detect the first signs of an increase in the locust population. However, locust control operations in these countries have not been needed this growing season.

Assistant Administrator Michael Hess traveled to Niger and Mali from August 19 to 28 to visit USAID-funded projects in affected areas and conduct humanitarian assessments with USAID/DART representatives in the field. Assistant Administrator Hess and his delegation reported that fields are green and crops appear abundant and healthy throughout Mali, and that Niger will probably have a good harvest this year. However, Assistant Administrator Hess expressed concern with household debt levels throughout the region due to household borrowing to survive the current lean season and carry-over debt from the lean season in 2004.


(1) U.N. World Food Program

(2) Affected populations may have varying levels of need, from complete food distributions to little or no assistance.

MAP: Ongoing USAID programs in the Sahel (as of 9 Sep 2005)

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