News / Africa

Poor Harvests in Sahel Could Affect Food Security Again

FILE - Boys walk on desert sands in the town of Moghtar-Lajjar in west Africa's Sahel region, where the United Nations says civil unrest and a drought  have put 18 million people in food insecurity, May 25 2012.
FILE - Boys walk on desert sands in the town of Moghtar-Lajjar in west Africa's Sahel region, where the United Nations says civil unrest and a drought have put 18 million people in food insecurity, May 25 2012.
Jennifer Lazuta
— The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says cereal harvests across much of Africa's Sahel region are expected to decline following late and erratic rains this year.  The FAO warns that, as in past years, this could threaten food security in the region unless early intervention measures are taken.

The FAO says crop production in several Sahelian countries is likely to be significantly lower this year.  A delayed start and early end to the rainy season caused poor grain and cereal harvests across the region.

In their latest Crop Prospects and Food Situation report, the FAO said Chad is facing the biggest decline in cereal production, nearly 25 percent.  Senegal, Niger and Mali are also expected to be hard hit.  In these areas, crop production is expected to fall by between 11 and 18 percent from last year.

Jean Senahoun is an economist at the FAO’s Trade and Market Division.

"What that means is that, as you know, the Sahel region has been hit by series of food crises in recent years.  Starting in 2005, then 2007, 2009, and most recently, in 2012, there was another food crisis.  That means that the coping capacity of the population has been really affected, it has been weakened.  [People] are very vulnerable to any new production shock.  So that is why we are putting out this early warning," said Senahoun.

Senahoun said that while the news isn’t all bad - harvests in the coastal countries of West Africa, such as Guinea, Nigeria and Ivory Coast, are likely to be above average - a drop in cereal production throughout the Sahel countries could threaten already food-insecure households and increase levels of malnutrition across the region next year.

"What we are saying is that the overall the production in West Africa is expected increase slightly compared to the average of the previous last five years.  But even if supply is overall expected to be adequate, there are areas in these Sahel countries which will experience a drop in production and where access to food may be a problem, and this is the area we are putting emphasis on," he said.

Senahoun said that particular attention needs to be paid to the more than 300,000 internally displaced people in Mali, who fled their homes last year during that country's conflict, and the 150,000 Malian refugees still living in neighboring countries.

He noted that while experts are not yet predicting a major food crisis in 2014, interventions need to be made in each of the areas that were affected by this year's erratic rains.

Such interventions could include things like targeted food distribution, selling cereals at subsidized prices, and food-for-work or cash-for-work programs.

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid