News / Africa

Food Insecurity a Serious Problem in Sahel

FILE - Maryam Sy comforts her two-year-old son Aliou Seyni Diallo, the youngest of nine, after a neighbor gave him dry couscous to stop him from crying from hunger, May 1, 2012.
FILE - Maryam Sy comforts her two-year-old son Aliou Seyni Diallo, the youngest of nine, after a neighbor gave him dry couscous to stop him from crying from hunger, May 1, 2012.
Jennifer Lazuta
The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says $1 billion is still required for emergency needs in Africa's Sahel region, which stretches from Senegal in the west to Chad in the east. 

To date, humanitarian agencies say they have received only about one-third of the requested $1.7 billion needed to help the more than 11 million people in the Sahel who face food insecurity this year.  That number includes 4.9 million children under five and pregnant mothers who are at risk of acute malnutrition.  

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says the food security and nutrition situation in the Sahel is expected to remain critical in coming months, in the region's "lean season."

To help the most vulnerable people in the region, humanitarian organizations requested $1.7 billion in funding for 2013, but, so far, have received just over $600 million.

"Today, middle of the year, we are only one-third funded for our appeal.  That means we have a $1 billion funding gap, said Robert Piper, the U.N. regional humanitarian coordinator for the Sahel. "That translates into a whole range of programs that we simply cannot extend.  It’s food assistance to families that we just can’t reach.  It’s assistance of emergency kind to farmers who are missing a season to plant, which means they’ll be back perhaps next year for food aid."

Piper said that the agricultural and refugee sectors are particularly underfunded.

In Burkina Faso, for example, only three percent of the requested agricultural funds for 2013 have been received. In Mauritania, only 14 percent of funding for water and sanitation aid has been granted.

Piper said that high food prices, following last year’s drought, have left families even more vulnerable.

He said many can’t afford to buy staple foods, such as rice and millet, which, in many cases, cost 50 to 60 percent more than the average price over the last five years.

The ongoing crisis in Mali has also left nearly 600,000 refugees and 450,000 displaced persons in need of aid.

Piper warned that if more funding for the region isn’t received soon, the situation is likely to deteriorate even further.

"Clearly we have to be very worried about the immediate needs.  These are families that we won’t reach if funding doesn’t come through.  It’s calories not distributed to families in need.  It’s nutrition programs that are not delivered.  There are health care programs following epidemics that can’t be put in place," he said.

OCHA says they are now calling on donors to close the funding gap.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs