Insufficient and unevenly distributed rainfall in 2011 caused a food security and nutrition crisis affecting an estimated 18 million people in nine countries in the Sahel Region. Early warning systems detected the risk of a crisis in the second half of 2011 and assessments in late 2011 and early 2012 confirmed the deteriorating situation. The situation was exacerbated by population movements caused by conflicts in the region: returning migrants from Côte d’Ivoire and Libya in 2010, the internally displaced in Mali, and Malian refugees in Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Niger in 2012 put additional pressure on under-developed receiving areas. The return of migrants, particularly in Niger, also meant a considerable drop in remittances from abroad for the households concerned.
While the governments in Mali, Mauritania, and Niger acknowledged the crisis in 2011 and played an active role in assessing the needs, planning the response, and mobilizing assistance, Burkina Faso and The Gambia only requested assistance in the beginning of March 2012, and Senegal in early April 2012. Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger all issued national response plans around the time of their request for international assistance, while The Gambia developed one at a slightly later stage.
Given that the regional CAP for West Africa had been discontinued, the regional hub in Dakar played a leadership role for the response. An Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) regional strategy for Preparedness and Response to a Food, Nutrition and Livelihood Crisis in the Sahel and neighbouring countries was launched on 15 December 2011 outlining the reduction of excessive mortality and morbidity and the strengthening of livelihoods of vulnerable households as key objectives. A revised plan issued in February 2012 presented the needs, the response required and the financial requirements for a total of US$724 million (66 per cent for food security and 34 per cent for nutrition).
Over the course of 2012, three of the six countries issued consolidated appeals (CAPs). Niger had already launched a CAP for 2012 in 2011, which had to be revised rapidly to tailor it to the scope of the crisis.
A Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel was appointed in April 2012 to oversee and coordinate the humanitarian response at the regional level and ensure the coherence of assistance across the various countries. All of the CERF allocations for drought response had already been made.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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