News / Africa

UNICEF: Urgent Funds Needed to Help Sahel Food Crisis

An man carries his malnourished child through the corridors inside Banadir hospital in Somalia's capital Mogadishu. (File Photo)
An man carries his malnourished child through the corridors inside Banadir hospital in Somalia's capital Mogadishu. (File Photo)
Jane Labous

The food crisis in the Sahel is deepening, but thanks to early warnings, national and international governments and agencies are already reacting with emergency food supplies.  The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) is calling for more than $67 million to address the needs of over one million children who will suffer from acute malnutrition in 2012.

Death, not famine, makes the headlines, says UNICEF's Martin Dawes, when asked about food insecurity in the Sahel.

People wait at the food distribution center set up by the World Food Program in Gumuruk, 40 kilometers from Pibor, South Sudan, January 17, 2012.
People wait at the food distribution center set up by the World Food Program in Gumuruk, 40 kilometers from Pibor, South Sudan, January 17, 2012.

The charity is calling for nearly $70 million to address the burgeoning crisis occurring in the Sahel territories of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, and the northern regions of Cameroon, Nigeria and Senegal - some of the driest places in the world.

Devastating floods in 2010 that left wells collapsed and crops wrecked, followed by a terrible harvest in 2011and rising food prices across West Africa, have meant hundreds of villages are left with dwindling food supplies.

Malnutrition

UNICEF's Martin Dawes says that over one million children across the Sahel are currently malnourished.

“It’s already a crisis because we have looked at the figures and across the Sahel belt there’s [sic] more than a million children under five who are going to need medical treatment for severe and acute malnutrition," he said. "And this doesn’t also take into account the 1.6 million who will be what we call moderately to acute malnourished. It’s a bad year, there’s been a dip in the production of food, and prices have gone higher. And this is enough to put an awful lot of children from the crisis they face every day where effectively their bodies are being injured, into a deeper crisis where effectively their lives will have to be saved.”

Poor harvest

A mother with her child seeking food aid in Mogadishu last month. The United Nations has now declared the end of the famine in Somalia, February 3, 2012
A mother with her child seeking food aid in Mogadishu last month. The United Nations has now declared the end of the famine in Somalia, February 3, 2012

In the Sahel regions of northern Senegal, arid fields lie bare and cracked with heat, apart from the occasional crop of hardy onions or cabbages, the only vegetables that will grow.

Villagers told VOA that there is nothing left - the remains of the harvest is either eaten, sold, or rotten.

In the village of Ndoye Diagne, people say they are being forced to sell animals and take loans from local merchants to buy small amounts of rice, oil and sugar.

Villager Jare Fall, 30, has five children. She dredges the remaining water from a well and waters a small crop of onions.

She says there aren't many onions this year and does not have enough food to feed her family. She says she needs another well so she can enlarge her patch of land and grow more food otherwise she will have to borrow.

Famine vs. death

But Dawes says the crisis in the Sahel was signaled early by surveys, and while the situation is not making huge headlines,  governments and charities are already in emergency mode.

“The sad fact is that many people really say that it isn’t a headline when it’s a famine but it’s a headline when there’s [sic] deaths," he said. "That’s not our job. Our job is to warn, to prevent and to try and ensure that the worst consequences of food insecurity does not happen, that communities are strengthened and most critically of all as far as we are concerned, that the indicators of a bad food crisis, which are children, do not die in droves.”

Emergency measures

UNICEF: Urgent Funds Needed to Help Sahel Food Crisis
UNICEF: Urgent Funds Needed to Help Sahel Food Crisis

Huge quantities of emergency feeds are being bought, such as Plumpy Nut - a peanut-based paste which is a new “miracle” tool to beat famine.

The charity is also building up its emergency response teams and liaising closely with governments.

In northern Senegal, the Red Cross is working to help villages, assessing the needs of individual villagers and providing hygiene and sanitation facilities to help combat other illnesses which come alongside malnutrition.

But both agencies agree that more funds are needed to tackle the crisis in the short term and long term. 

“Basically what will save lives in this crisis is when affected children get the right treatment given by a professional in the right place and there is access to those places so that supplies can continue," added Dawes. "It’s cheaper for us to do it now than it would be to fly it all in in the peak of a really intense emergency.”

Malnutrition has long-term effects including irreversible cognitive effects on development and stunting.

UNICEF says 35% of deaths of children under five have malnutrition as their root cause.

You May Like

Changing Under Pressure, IS ‘Potent’ as Ever

US intel officials describe Ramadi's fall as concerning, but say it isn't emblematic of larger effort to degrade IS capabilities More

Nigeria Fuel Shortage Shows Fragility of Africa’s Oil Giant

Although it is the largest oil producer in Africa, country has nearly ran out of fuel it needs to power its generators, cars and airplanes over the past week More

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs