DAKAR – The number of women, men and children affected by a food and nutrition crisis in West and Central Africa is expected to reach a new record high in June 2022 – quadrupling in just three years from 10.7 million in 2019 to 41 million in 2022 – unless appropriate measures are urgently taken, reveals the Cadre Harmonisé food security analysis released in March 2022.

Following the high-level conference in Paris on food security and nutrition situation in West Africa, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) are calling for longer-term political and financial commitments to address the worst food security and nutrition crisis to strike the region in 10 years.

“The situation is spiraling out of control. Needs are escalating much faster than we are currently able to respond – this in an immensely complex and volatile operational environment,” said Chris Nikoi, the U.N. World Food Programme’s regional director for West Africa.

“Both governments and partners need a step-change in tackling the underlying drivers of hunger and malnutrition. Bold and rigorous political actions are needed now, including lifting barriers to the regional trade and ensuring the most acute needs are met during a lean season that is projected to be extremely challenging in the region,” Nikoi added.

There is a high risk that the food and nutrition crisis will be further aggravated due to persistent insecurity that continues to trigger massive population displacement, the impact of the climate crisis, disrupted food systems, limited food production, barriers to regional trade and the socioeconomic fallout from the pandemic which has devastated national economies. Furthermore, the ongoing conflict in Ukraine is violently disrupting the global trade of food, fertilizers and oil products, with the already high prices of agricultural products reaching record highs not seen in the region since 2011.

While the increase in staple food prices has been steady in all countries in the region, a staggering 40% jump from the five-year average has been witnessed in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Togo, Niger, Mali and Mauritania – pushing basic meals out of reach for millions of women, men and children.

“This unprecedented food crisis the region is facing offers an opportunity for us to address the root causes of food insecurity in the sub-region by developing food and agricultural systems that are less dependent on external shocks, and a more productive and efficient local agriculture with a particular emphasis on the consumption of local food products” said Dr Gouantoueu Robert Guei, Sub-Regional Coordinator for West Africa and FAO representative in Senegal.

The nutritional situation also remains a grave concern in the region, particularly in the Sahelian countries such as Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad where an estimated 6 million children under the age of five are likely to suffer from acute malnutrition in 2022. Nutritional analyses conducted across the Sahel and in Nigeria point to a crisis or emergency situation in several locations in Chad, Burkina Faso, Mali and Nigeria.

“Africa has the largest untapped potential of arable land, yet most of these countries import food. Governments need to support long-term agriculture plans for the next generation, including investments in developing agriculture, livestock and fisheries to achieve food security,” said Benoit Thierry, IFAD regional representative in West Africa.

The March 2022 Cadre Harmonisé projections suggest that in coastal countries, the number of food insecure people has doubled since 2020, rising from 3 million people in the June-August 2020 period to over 6 million in June-August 2022. This includes nearly 110,000 people facing Emergency (Phase 4) levels of food insecurity. The coastal region is likely to experience further increases in food prices and disruptions in the supply of agricultural products (especially fertilizers), due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

“Acute food insecurity is no longer restricted to the Sahel; it is expanding into Costal countries. We need to respond in a way that is sustainable, at the right scale, and that tackles the multifaceted socio-political and socio-economic elements of the crises the region faces. This will only be achieved through enhanced collaboration, coordination mechanisms at national and regional levels, and leadership at all levels, including from governments, donors, and UN agencies,” Nikoi added.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

Follow us on Twitter @WFPUSA, @wfp_media, @WFP_WAfrica and @WFP_FR

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is the specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to eliminate hunger. Its goal is to achieve food security for all and to ensure regular and adequate access to good quality food for all, enabling people to lead healthy and active lives. With over 194 member countries, FAO works in more than 130 countries around the world.

FAO’s primary language accounts on Twitter are @FAO, @FAOArabic, @FAOenEspanol and @FAOenFrancais 

ROME/COTONOU – The number of people on the brink of starvation across the Sahel has increased almost tenfold over the past three years and displacement by almost 400% as the region stares down a horrendous food crisis, the Executive Director of United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) David Beasley, warned yesterday.

The region that runs south of the Sahara Desert is currently experiencing some of its driest conditions in many years. In just three years, the number of people marching toward starvation has skyrocketed from 3.6 million to 10.5 million in five countries – Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. The current crisis is expected to outpace previous years due to compounding factors including insecurity, an increase in poverty due to COVID-19 and dramatic increases in the cost of staple food.

“An absolute crisis is unfolding before our eyes in the Sahel region,” Beasley said from Benin, having just visited the U.N. World Food Programme operations in Niger and Chad. “I’ve been talking with families who have been through more than you can possibly imagine. They have been chased from their homes by extremist groups, starved by drought and plunged into despair by COVID’s economic ripple effects. We’re running out of money, and these people are running out of hope.”

While needs are sky high, resourcing to support the vulnerable is at rock bottom, forcing the U.N. World Food Programme into the difficult position of having to take from the hungry to feed the starving.  In Niger, for example, a shortage of funding means that the U.N. World Food Programme is cutting food rations by half.

The U.N. World Food Programme requires $470 million for the next six months to continue operations in the Sahel where, despite a challenging security context, it has worked with humanitarian partners to maintain lifesaving support reaching 9.3 million people in the five countries in 2021.

The U.N. World Food Programme has also been implementing resilience-building programs to help families thrive. In the last three years, the U.N. World Food Programme and communities have turned 270,000 acres of barren fields in the Sahel region of five countries into productive agricultural and pastoral land, changing the lives of over 2.5 million people. Communities that have benefited from the resilience building activities are faring relatively better against this unprecedented food crisis as they have been empowered to grow sufficient food to feed themselves, diversify their productions and income.

Meanwhile in Benin, where the threat of conflict spilling across from neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger into areas in the north is a growing concern, the government-funded school feeding program, jointly implemented with the U.N. World Food Programme, provides a nutritious meal to 700,000 children and has been vital in creating jobs and strengthening the local economy.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

Follow us on Twitter @WFPUSA and @wfp_media

DAKAR – 15.4 million cases of acute malnutrition in children under five years old are expected in 2020 in West and Central Africa – one third of them from its most severe form – if adequate measures are not put in place now, warned the United Nations Children’s Funds (UNICEF) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). This represents a 20 percent increase from earlier estimates in January 2020, according to an analysis of the combined impact of food insecurity and COVID-19 on acute malnutrition in 19 countries of the region.

Conflict and armed violence have led to massive population displacements and drastically limited access to basic social services, leading child malnutrition to increase to unprecedented levels. The coronavirus disease is exacerbating fragile contexts in West and Central Africa, such as in the Sahel region across Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal, which were already stricken with food insecurity and malnutrition.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, 4.5 million cases were anticipated to suffer from acute malnutrition in 2020, in these 6 countries. Today, with growing insecurity and COVID-19, that number has jumped to almost 5.4 million.

“Children suffering from severe acute malnutrition are at higher risk of COVID-19-related complications. Whereas, good nutrition for children, starting from their early days, protects them against illnesses and infections, and supports their recovery when they become ill,” said Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa. “Ensuring the continuity of preventive and lifesaving health and nutrition services, building shock-responsive social protection systems, protecting livelihoods and supporting families’ access to water, hygiene and healthy food are critical for child survival and long-term development.”

Several factors threaten the nutritional status of children under five in West and Central Africa. These include:

  • household food insecurity
  • poor maternal nutrition and infant feeding practices
  • conflicts and armed violence
  • population displacement
  • high levels of childhood illnesses and water-borne diseases such as diarrhea, fragile health systems
  • poor access to clean water and sanitation
  • chronic poverty

Adding to these malnutrition aggravating factors, COVID-19 pandemic containment measures have led to disruptions in food production and distribution, in health and humanitarian supply chains, as well as a slow-down of economic activities. The pandemic has had indirect negative impacts on food systems, households’ income and food security, and the provision of treatment against malnutrition. This makes it more difficult for populations to maintain healthy diets, optimal infant and young child feeding practices, and hinders their access to essential nutrition services.

“Thousands of families will be unable to provide their children with the nutritious food needed for their proper growth and development,” said Chris Nikoi, U.N. World Food Programme Regional Director for West and Central Africa. “We must work together to improve access to nutritious foods and ensure that there are strong preventive actions that protect children from falling into the vicious trap of malnutrition and sickness.”

The U.N. World Food Programme and UNICEF are working with governments and partners to ensure the continuation of essential services. Together, they deliver an integrated package of care focused on the prevention and treatment of acute malnutrition and empower communities for the provision of basic services.

In northern Mali, for example, the U.N. World Food Programme and UNICEF are joining their efforts and resources to treat and prevent maternal and child malnutrition and reinforce good feeding practices. This includes screening of children for malnutrition. The screening is part of an initiative that promotes early detection of malnutrition in children by mothers and families, using a Mid Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC) screening tape. In addition, it allows for the referral of moderate and severe acute malnutrition cases to health facilities, supported by both agencies. Prevention activities include sensitization sessions on infant and young child feeding practices, supported by UNICEF and complemented by the provision of vouchers to women to exchange for nutritious foods available in the market, facilitated by the U.N. World Food Programme.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies, building prosperity and supporting a sustainable future for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

Contact:
George FOMINYEN, WFP: +221 77 639 4271, george.fominyen@wfp.org
Anne-Isabelle LECLERCQ BALDE, UNICEF: +221 77 740 6914,aleclercqbalde@unicef.org

CHAD:

Landlocked & Starving

Fighting one of the highest levels of hunger in the world, the people of this Sahelian country in central Africa are also among the most affected by the global climate crisis.

Ongoing violence, climate change, desertification and tension over natural resources are all worsening hunger and poverty across Chad.

187th

Chad is ranked 187th out of 189 countries in the 2020 Human Development Index

42%

of the population lives below the poverty line

1M

people are forcefully displaced within the country

drought & displacement

Many Chadians depend on farming and livestock for their livelihoods, but advancing agricultural practices is difficult as rain patterns are changing and droughts are frequent. This places even more strain on vulnerable families living in the Sahelian belt. Around 37.8 percent of children aged under 5 suffer from stunting, according to the Global Nutrition Report, with low height for their age caused by chronic malnutrition. The health of pregnant and breastfeeding women is poor, with high maternal mortality rates due to inadequate access to health services. Access to basic education is also limited. 

Chad hosts one of the largest number of refugees in the region, and one million people are in a situation of forced displacement in the country; including 570,000 refugees, 406,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) around Lake Chad, as well as 107,000 Chadian returnees. The recent influx of refugees who have fled conflict in Cameroon has put additional pressure on Chad’s already limited resources.


WFP’s Work in CHAD

We run a variety of activities in Chad, with a focus on life-saving emergency activities and strengthening the country’s long-term resilience. In our mission to end food insecurity and malnutrition in the country.

Food Assistance

We’re aiming to support approximately 3 million vulnerable people affected by chronic food insecurity and climate-related disasters in 2022. WFP provides cash-based transfers to enable vulnerable internally displaced people to buy food from local markets, boosting the economy. And we provide food to refugees, returnees and vulnerable local communities during the lean season.

Support for Refugees

We provide life-saving food and nutritional assistance to over 530,000 refugees from Sudan, the Central African Republic (CAR), Nigeria and Cameroon, and 230,000 displaced persons in the Lake province. In support of the government’s National Response Plan for the lean season, WFP is aiming to assist 1,061,040 people in the Sahelian belt from June to September 2022. 102,000 Chadians, who fled violence in CAR in 2013, still live in transit sites and host villages in the South of Chad.

Nutrition

And we support the Ministry of Health in the coordination of nutrition activities and the implementation of moderate acute malnutrition health care. We provide nutrition support to babies aged 6 months to 2 years to prevent malnutrition, children under 5 to treat malnutrition, with pregnant and breastfeeding women also receiving nutritional support. In 2021, WFP reached 458,000 children and 235,400 pregnant and nursing women with specialized nutritious foods to prevent or treat acute malnutrition or address vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

School Meals

WFP supports the Ministry of Education, regional and local educational authorities, schools, and communities with technical assistance and provides school meals to preschools and primary schools as well as assistance to adolescent girls to increase attendance rates. WFP provides nutritious school meals to children in food insecure areas of the Sahel, where food production is poor even in relatively good years. School meals encourage school enrollment, which is low in these regions. We also provide an emergency school meal program in the Lake Chad region. In 2021, WFP school meals reached a total of 200,000 school children.

Resilience

WFP has continued to scale up the integrated resilience program and reached nearly 486,000 people in more than 211 villages across the Sahel, who benefitted from asset creation activities. Since the beginning of the scale-up in 2018, together with the communities and partners, WFP has rehabilitated nearly 2,600 hectares of degraded land and created some 385 hectares of gardens – the equivalent of almost 4,200 football fields – to produce fresh vegetables and fruits.

Logistics

WFP manages the UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) on behalf of the humanitarian community in Chad, with 21 destinations throughout the country served by four aircraft carrying personnel and light cargo. UNHAS is a critical enabler of humanitarian and development assistance in Chad. Its network is strategically structured to provide maximum coverage of the country’s large land surface. In 2021, a total of 105 humanitarian organizations and 10,600 passengers relied on UNHAS to carry out their vital work in Chad.

Help Save Lives by Sending Food

You can help deliver food to vulnerable populations in Chad and other countries by donating to WFP.

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