No 'magic wand' for Sahel as food crisis looms yet again

April 10, 2013

"Aid agencies are gearing up for a second year of emergency response in the Sahel where an estimated 10.3 million people could be affected by food shortages, according to the UN (pdf). Despite rains in 2012 leading to a good harvest in October-November, deficits incurred during last year's food crisis means the poorest families have not been able to replenish their stocks and pay off debts. The situation this year is exacerbated by a lower than expected harvest in Nigeria (pdf), which produces a lot of the grain consumed in the Sahel – prices have shot up. The crisis in Mali has prevented thousands of families there from planting at all. 'We can say there is a crisis already, just by the number of cases ofmalnutrition which we're dealing with in hospitals from Chad to Burkina Faso to Mali,' said Alvaro Pascual, Sahel desk officer for Action Against HungerAlthough fewer people are affected than last year, when about 18 million people were at risk of food shortages, Action Against Hunger estimates that 1.4 million under-fives could have severe acute malnutrition, which usually requires hospital treatment."