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Sahel: fighting hunger and vulnerability

The Sahel region in Africa (Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Chad) is highly exposed to food insecurity and is going through a prolonged hunger crisis. Currently, more than 10 million people are affected. The annual lean season of scarce resources and high food prices, has already started and is hitting the poorest and most vulnerable hard. Over one million children remain severely malnourished, another 4.5 million are at risk. The hunger is compounded by the Mali conflict (which has displaced nearly half a million people) and instability in northern Nigeria.  

Ready-to-use therapeutic and supplementary foods have revolutionised the treatment of acute malnutrition. They are safe and easy to use at home. No mixing with water is required, therefore no risk of contamination exists. And it seems children like the taste too!

The unprecedented humanitarian effort in 2012 mitigated the food crisis and saved the lives of over a million severely malnourished children in the Sahel. Yet, the crisis has not abated and the need for consistent humanitarian aid remains. Currently, the priorities are to eliminate the root causes of hunger and extreme poverty and strengthen the resilience of the most vulnerable people.

The European Union is leading the international response to the Sahel crisis. The European Commission has contributed 388.5 million EUR in response to the disaster in the region (224 million in humanitarian aid and 164.5 million in development assistance). The European Commission funds the provision of therapeutic nutrition for severely malnourished children as well as safety nets for the most vulnerable households (cash transfers, vouchers, etc.). This assistance aims to prevent those most at risk from slipping back into crisis.

The Commission has also set up the AGIR-Sahel global alliance, aiming to strengthen resilience in the Sahel. It has pledged to eliminate hunger in the region in the next 20 years and improve the capacity of the region's countries to withstand and recover from droughts.