*by Sini Maria Heikkila, Humanitarian Policy Officer Tearfund and *
Denis Kongere, Regional Drought Policy and Campaigns Manager, Oxfam
The outlook for West Africa’s hunger crisis in 2013 has improved in some parts of the region compared to 2012 when 18 million people were at risk of hunger.
But 2013 started with a warning from a UN official that more than 10 million people across the region are still at risk of starvation, including 1.4 million children facing severe acute malnutrition.
Experts say food crises like those in 2005, 2010 and 2012 indicate an underlying trend for increasing chronic vulnerability.
So why are so many people in the region frequently locked in a hunger crisis?
The arid land of West Africa’s Sahel region makes farming a massive challenge but one that Tearfund partners are addressing.
In the village of N’Gara in Chad, vegetable gardener Mark Marabeye has a plot measuring 65 metres by 45 metres, located next to a river, where he grows tomatoes, peppers and okra.
The river plays a vital role in the success of Mark’s crops. When it floods, it leaves nutrients that boost his soil and therefore his crops. Last year he made 866,000 CFA (£1,000) which:
paid for his four children to go to school