Food security situation in Sahel remains dire

un foodAbout 11 million people in the Sahel region of Africa still do not have enough food to meet their basic needs, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warned on Wednesday.

Reports indicate that the semi-arid region, which stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea between the Sahara desert to the north and the Savannah to the south, is facing a dire food security situation.

The FAO pointed out that the lean season, also called the hunger season, came earlier than usual this year as a result of the negative effects of last year’s crisis on the poorest households.

It said that families were forced to sell their cereals to pay their debts, and they have also lost livestock, while there is low livestock birth rates.

‘Families that have mostly exhausted their food stocks are obliged to buy food at the market just as food prices are high,’ the agency noted.

It also stated that it was particularly concerned about the situation in northern Mali, northern Nigeria and neighbouring countries where price of coarse grains such as sorghum, millet and maize continues to increase.

FAO, therefore, appealed to the international community to increase funding for aid to the most vulnerable farmers and herders in the Sahel region.

It said that despite its appeal for just over US$ 113 million this year to support almost 6 million vulnerable people in the Sahel, only US$ 19.4 million has been received, about 17 percent of the total.

The statement also quoted the interim head of the FAO Regional Office for Africa and the Sub-regional Office for West Africa, Mr. Lamourdia Thiombiano, as saying that, ‘the recurrent food and nutrition crises in the Sahel in 2005, 2008 and 2012 have eroded the capacity of the poor to maintain or restore their livelihoods’.

‘Instead of working their own fields, many poor farmers are forced to sell their labour and were unable to benefit from the good weather of 2012,’ he added.

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