HOW TO: Prevent the Sahel's next food crisis

July 6, 2010

"'We need to bridge humanitarian and development interventions, and integrate all sectors. Crises are increasingly frequent and complex and go beyond the national and regional level; they need to be dealt with accordingly,'" said Patricia Hoorelbeke, the West Africa representative of Action Against Hunger/ACF International. The standard responses, or those crafted for past crises, are not a solution, she commented.

'If a family invests everything in cultivating their land, when the harvests come, they have to sell immediately; if everyone sells at the same time, prices go down,' said Hoorelbeke, of Action Against Hunger/ACF International...'There is food on the markets, but people have no money to buy it. This is a poverty problem. The poorest families can never eat and there is no social security net; there is no such thing as insurance or subsidies for farmers either. Sustainable livelihoods have to be developed,' said Hoorelbeke.

'Healthcare needs to be free for children below five [years of age] and pregnant and lactating women. When the health system functions, a crisis response can be quickly set up. Now, people will not even go to health centres because they think they will have to pay,' Hoorelbeke told IRIN.