The European Commission is providing assistance worth €34 million for immediate food aid for the most vulnerable people in Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Mali, Niger and Chad. Coming at the start of the lean season in the Sahel region, this funding will help bridge the gap until the next harvest.
“Millions of people in the Sahel are exposed to the risk of hunger and it is crucial that we keep helping to meet their immediate needs. This emergency aid continues in parallel with the European Union’s work with the Sahel countries and partners on strengthening the resilience of the most vulnerable people to future crises,” said Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management.
The assistance will be delivered through cash, vouchers or food, depending on the local market situation.
This new funding comes from the 11th European Development Fund reserve and brings the Commission’s total humanitarian aid for the Sahel region to €185 million in 2015.
Neven Mimica, EU Commissioner for International cooperation and Development added: “Building resilience is a major priority in EU development cooperation. We stand side by side with our Sahel partners to improve food and nutrition security and enhance resilience through our support to agriculture, health, water and education“.
The Sahel crisis remains extremely complex. One in seven people in the region – more than 20 million in total – do not have enough affordable and nutritious food for healthy life. As many as 5.8 million children suffer from acute malnutrition and 4.3 million people need emergency relief.
The conflict in northern Nigeria and Mali further aggravates the situation that drove hundreds of thousands of refugees looking for shelter in Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad and Cameroon, where host communities themselves often struggle to survive.
Another problem is drought in the second half of last year which has jeopardised harvests and is making it even harder for the poorest to buy food.
The growing humanitarian needs require both massive relief aid and measures to address the root causes of food insecurity and malnutrition and increase the resilience of the poorest people. The European Commission has been instrumental in the creation of AGIR, a global alliance to strengthen resilience in West Africa which has set itself a ‘Zero hunger’ goal by 2032.