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Sahel: Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, the Niger and Senegal Regional overview ā€“ October 2018

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In numbers

6 million estimated to be severely food insecure during the lean season (June‒August 2018)

1.6 million children at risk of severe acute malnutrition

2.5 million pastoralists and agropastoralists at risk of livelihood crisis

USD 166.8 million required by FAO under its three-year programme (2018‒2021)

Key points

  • FAO is working together with governments and partners to address both the immediate needs and longer-term structural challenges. Assessment missions are regularly undertaken to revise FAO’s response to reach those most in need, adjusting to the evolving realities.
  • In the last five years, Chad, Mauritania and Senegal were the hardest hit by fodder deficits, with some areas reporting deficits of 50‒100 percent and others in Burkina Faso, Mali and the Niger reaching 50 percent.
  • Despite regular rainfall in August 2018, the situation across the Sahel remains of concern due to periods of dry spells and livestock losses in Mauritania, the Niger and Senegal, as well as an emerging alert of foot-and-mouth disease in the region that should be monitored to avoid a potential outbreak.

Planned response until December 2018

  • 644 490 people targeted - Vaccinate 2.1 million small ruminants and 1.5 million heads of cattle
  • Distribute 10 088 tonnes of feed to improve the milk production of lactating cows as well as multinutrient blocks and lick stones destock 2 300 heads of cattle
  • Provide 36 000 households with cash transfers
  • Provide households with 186 tonnes of crop seeds

Response to date

  • Vaccinated 193 670 small ruminants and 200 000 heads of cattle to prevent the spread of epizootics and transboundary diseases
  • Distributed 5 760 tonnes of livestock feed to protect the breeding nuclei of the most vulnerable households
  • Provided 1 100 vulnerable households with cash transfers
  • Distributed 139 tonnes of crop seeds and 4 000 farming kits to contribute to restoring the livelihoods of agropastoralists

Challenges facing food security and agriculture

Countries in the Sahel are among the most at risk of crises and disasters.
Increasingly unpredictable weather patterns, frequent droughts and floods, and land degradation threaten the livelihoods of highly vulnerable communities. In the last decade, a spike in armed conflict and violence has exacerbated chronic needs, forced the displacement of entire communities and disrupted livelihoods. This has resulted in a 300-percent increase in the number of people severely food insecure compared with 2017 ‒ levels unseen since the crisis of 2012.

The situation is exacerbated by persistent insecurity in the Lake Chad Basin and in the Liptako-Gourma region, the sluggish economy, the depreciation of certain local currencies and the effects of inflation.

The 2017/18 agropastoral campaign was marked by severe rainfall deficits and erratic distribution of rains across the Sahel. Pasture and water shortages have contributed to causing early transhumance movement ‒ nearly 3 to 4 months before compared with a regular year. In Mauritania, around 2.4 million animals have already started moving, including 80 percent into Mali and Senegal. Livestock are increasingly being concentrated in smaller areas, raising concerns about the outbreak and spread of disease, potential conflict with settled farmers and the impact on the already fragile environment. The prices of staple cereals and livestock feed are rising, while the price pastoralists are able to sell their livestock for is declining. Livestock nutrition and body conditions are also deteriorating as are the quantity and quality of pasture lands.

As household food stocks are depleted, people are increasingly depending on wild foods and markets earlier than usual for staple foods, as well as the adoption of negative coping mechanisms in order to deal with the crisis.