The European Commission is increasing its humanitarian funding to the Sahel by €40 million, bringing its response to the food crisis to €318 million. This extra funding comes just weeks before the food crisis is set to peak across the region where 18 million people are in danger from hunger.
The €40 million of funding announced today would go towards blanket feeding programmes for children and distribution of food to the poorest households. Where food is still available on local markets, the funding will be used to distribute money to people to buy food for themselves. €10 million of this funding will also help provide food, water, health care and shelter for the estimated 400,000 Malians displaced by conflict.
The funding increase comes just as the European Commission hosts a high level gathering on the Sahel hunger crisis today in Brussels. International donors, representatives from several of the affected Sahel countries -Senegal, Gambia, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad and Nigeria - as well as international and local organisations are attending.
The meeting launched a new partnership on strengthening the resilience of the Sahel to future crises. The initiative is called AGIR Sahel (Alliance Globale pour l'Initiative Resilience) and has one core aim: to make sure that the people in the Sahel can better cope with future droughts.
The European Commission is the leading humanitarian donor in the Sahel, its funds reaching between 6 to 7 million people. The Commission provided support as soon as the warning signs for hunger began to flash in 2011. Successfully translating early warning into early action has already saved thousands of lives. The Commission remains at the forefront of international efforts to reduce emergency needs leading up to the peak of the crisis in the coming weeks.
The funding announced today is about saving lives in an emergency. It is our last chance to get to people when the crisis peaks. Right now people across the Sahel are starting to scrape the bottom of depleted grain stores. Their only remaining options are to sell their animals, farm tools and eat the grain they should now be planting for the next harvest. This funding is aimed at preventing people having to make these desperate choices. The result is that they will be more resilient for future shocks that may occur.