News / Africa

11 Million in Sahel Face Severe Food Insecurity

The food and nutrition crisis facing countries in West Africa’s drought-prone Sahel region deteriorated at an alarming rate in March 2012. (IAEA)
The food and nutrition crisis facing countries in West Africa’s drought-prone Sahel region deteriorated at an alarming rate in March 2012. (IAEA)

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua
A U.N. agency says 11 million people in Africa’s Sahel region still face severe food insecurity. At the same time, an emergency appeal for 113 million dollars has gone largely unmet.


The Food and Agriculture Organization says the Sahel has faced food insecurity crises in 2005, 2008 and again in 2012.  Those crises, it says, have “eroded the capacity of the poor to maintain or restore their livelihoods.”

In Dakar, Patrick David, FAO’s deputy coordinator for food security analysis for West Africa and the Sahel, said, “There is still a lot of people in food insecurity. The people more and more find some difficulty to recover from the past crisis even if there is a good harvest because there have been pretty good harvests in 2012.”

David said many people in the Sahel depend on a few cattle and a small piece of land for survival. So, it’s hard for them to stock up any reserve food or agricultural supplies in the event of drought, conflict or bad harvest.

“While before it would take one or two years to recover, now it’s longer for those people to recover. It’s difficult to restock cattle, for example. It’s difficult for them to access agricultural credit to have good input[s] and to have fertilizer. And in some places in the Sahel, like in Burkina Faso and Niger, there [are] some dense populated area[s] where there is degradation of land and the loss of soil fertility. That means their agricultural
yield[s] are decreasing year by year,” he said.

That compounds the problems they already face as the price for grains, such as sorghum, millet and maize, continues to rise.

David said, “The poor and the very poor households, as soon as they’ve exhausted their little harvest, totally depend [on] the market. So they have to buy the grain at higher and higher prices. So their purchasing power is decreasing every year.”

Insecurity, such as the recent conflict in northern Mali, can also boost prices because agricultural products cannot get to market.

The FAO has appealed for $113 million for its programs in the Sahel. However, it’s only received less that $19.5 million so far.

“The intervention of FAO strengthens the resilience of the affected households. But when the affected households cannot receive the good seeds and the good fertilizer or cannot recapitalize their livestock, they stay very vulnerable and it’s a problem for the next year. So we definitely need additional support for the farmers and agriculture in order to decrease the impact of the forthcoming crisis,” he said.

Building resilience includes improving the storage, processing and transportation of goods – as well as livestock food supplements, animal health campaigns and herd restocking. The Food and Agriculture Organization programs also include fixing irrigation systems. 

The FAO said it would like these programs to be in place – and making a difference – during the next growing season which runs from October through April

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid