14.4 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in Burkina Faso (3.5 m), Mali (7.1 m), and Niger (3.8 m). (OCHA)
6.5 million people projected to be in severe food insecurity (2021 lean season). 7 million people targeted in 2021 by WFP under the Country Strategic Plans in Burkina Faso (2.6 m), Mali (1.4 m), and Niger (3 m) until end December 2021.
1.8 million people internally displaced (IDPs) in Burkina Faso (1.1 m), Mali (347,000), and Niger (300,300). 304,000 refugees in Burkina Faso (22,000), Mali (47,600), and Niger (234,300).
1.1 million vulnerable people were assisted by WFP and partners in February 2021 only, across Burkina Faso (801,000), Mali (329,477). Niger reached 507,367 beneficiaries in January 2021.
As of 28 March 2021, WHO reported 27,433 confirmed cumulative COVID-19 cases in the Central Sahel countries: Burkina Faso (12,673), Mali (9,773) and Niger (4,987). This represents a 75 percent increase since 29 December 2020 (15,361 cases). So far 706 people in the three Central Sahel countries lost their lives due to the pandemic (53 percent in Mali, 26 percent in Niger and 21 percent in Burkina Faso).
WFP has started planning the lean season assistance to the most vulnerable populations in the Central Sahel countries that begins in June, when food and nutrition assistance are most acute. However, critical funding deficit is affecting the emergency response.
In Burkina Faso, WFP was forced to implement a prioritization plan from March for its emergency operations. Both in-kind rations and cash-based transfers were reduced, as well as coverage, to ensure continued assistance to at least 700,000 IDPs. A 75 percent ration is provided in hard-to-reach areas, prioritizing assistance where access was more difficult and irregular; in all other locations, WFP provides a 50 percent ration. Other beneficiary groups (refugees and hostcommunities) residing in these localities also have their rations reduced to avoid any intercommunal tension among targeted groups. Furthermore, urgent funding is needed for the upcoming lean season, as currently less than 15 percent of the required resources is available for WFP to assist 1.4 million vulnerable people for three months.
In Mali, a lack of resources is expected from May 2021, affecting 414,210 beneficiaries including 127,000 IDPs and 137,280 COVID19-affected people. This funding gap is likely to quickly increase for the lean season from June to September with WFP requiring funds in advance to ensure food is prepositioned.
In Niger, the most significant and urgent lack of resources remains under the emergency response as well and need to be addressed to continue providing assistance to vulnerable IDPs, refugees and host communities in the coming months. The prices of local foodstuffs is increasing significantly, and WFP will probably need to downscale its cash-based assistance and further increase food transfers. This increase in market prices, combined with the already fragile security context and the lean season period fast approaching (starting in April for herders), is paving the road for a food crisis that will likely materialize in the coming months.
WFP urgently requires USD 338 million from April to September 2021 to carry out its planned lifesaving operations in the Central Sahel and pre-position relief items before the lean season.