The Sahel, one of the world’s poorest regions, is still reeling from the aftershocks of 4 consecutive food and nutrition crises since 2005. Drought, failed harvests, excessive food prices and the spillover from the conflict in Côte d'Ivoire, Libya and Mali left 18 million people food insecure in 2012.
Despite abundant rains and a good 2012-13 harvest, the recurrent crises have severely eroded the resilience of the poorest who already struggle to cover basic food needs in a 'normal' year. The Mali conflict is further exacerbating the food security situation in the region.
In 2013, nutrition care and supplementary feeding will continue to be a massive need with 1.4 million children expected to suffer from the severest form of malnutrition. More than 10 million people will also face food shortages. Strengthening the resilience of the ultra-poor in the Sahel – approximately 12 million people – and shielding them from future life-threatening crises has become a priority.
The European Commission's response to the 2012 crisis focused on 3 phases: crisis mitigation and preparedness (Nov '11 – Feb '12), emergency response (March – Oct '12) and recovery (Oct '12 onwards). In 2012, the European Commission mobilized a total of €338.5 million for the food and nutrition crisis in the Sahel, of which 174 million were allocated to the emergency humanitarian response.
Globally, 6.8 million people received food assistance, half of it in the form of cash transfers, vouchers or training. Another 3.6 million people received nutrition care and 850,000 children were treated for severe acute malnutrition. In 2013, ECHO will continue to fund care for malnourished children and livelihoods support via cash transfers to the poorest households.
In an effort to stop the endless cycle of food crises, the EC has been instrumental in forging AGIR-Sahel, the Global Alliance for Resilience Initiative. The goal of AGIR which brings together governments, donors and aid agencies, is to achieve ‘Zero Hunger’ in the Sahel by 2032.