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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid