Nigeria + 5 more

Sahel Crisis: Overview of Humanitarian Needs and Requirements (May 2020)


The rapid deterioration of the Sahel crisis has driven humanitarian needs across the region to unprecedented levels. Conflict, climate shocks, chronic vulnerabilities and endemic poverty are putting millions at risk.

Escalating violence has forced more people than ever before to flee their homes. A dramatic food crisis hits the conflict-affected regions the hardest. And the Covid-19 pandemic risks wreaking havoc on the most vulnerable population.

In 2020, a new record high of 24 million Sahelians will need life-saving assistance and protection. Coordinated action, sufficient resources and a principled response are urgently required to bring aid operations to scale and turn the crisis around.

The Sahel

Converging crises, unprecedented needs

Sahel countries count among the world’s most exposed to crises and disasters. Increasingly unpredictable weather patterns, frequent droughts and floods and land degradation threaten the livelihoods of highly vulnerable communities. Food insecurity and malnutrition are high and widespread, with seasonal peaks pushing rural areas into severe crisis.

A surge in armed conflict and violence, now affecting vast areas, has worsened persistent needs, uprooted entire communities and disrupted livelihoods.

Exacerbated by conflict dynamics and environmental degradation, tensions in communities with deep-rooted grievances are growing.


Across the region, 6.9 million people are grappling with the dire consequences of forced displacement. Almost 4.5 million people are internally displaced or refugees – one million more than in 2018 – and 2.5 million returnees are struggling to rebuild their lives. Insecurity and attacks are also severely disrupting basic social services, jeopardizing the future of thousands of children and depriving violence-affected people and communities of critical services.
Food insecurity in 2020 is expected to spike to unprecedented peaks, with 13 million people facing a critical lack of food.

Malnutrition in conflictaffected areas risks deteriorating fast, and 1.6 million children under 5 will be suffering from severe acute malnutrition.

In addition, the Covid-19 pandemic has the potential to wreak havoc on fragile health systems hitting vulnerable population the hardest.

In 2020, 24 million people will need humanitarian assistance and protection – the highest number ever recorded. Concerted action is urgently required to prevent further spread of the crisis and spill-over into new regions and West African coastal countries.

The future of millions of people, 4 out of 5 being younger under 35 age old, is at stake.

Only coordinated investments in multidimensional solutions will reverse the deteriorating trend in the region, uplift Sahel’s most vulnerable inhabitants from recurrent crises, and create stable conditions for communities and families to prosper.

Insecurity and conflict in the Sahel have dramatically increased over the last years and are key drivers of humanitarian needs.

While responding to the resulting emergency is an absolute priority, insecurity makes the delivery of assistance increasingly challenging.


UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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