West Africa: Millions at risk of severe food crisis, says Oxfam
Millions of people in West Africa could be protected from a serious food crisis if preparations are scaled up across West Africa, Oxfam said Monday.
With early indicators pointing to a likely food crisis in 2012, with people at particularly high risk in Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali and Chad, now is the time to
invest in preventative measures, the International Humanitarian non-governmental organization said.
While evaluations are still ongoing to identify those at most risk, early reports suggest six million people in Niger and 2.9 million people in Mali live
in areas vulnerable to the coming crisis, while in Mauritania 700,000 people – over one-quarter of the population - are reported as at risk of severe food
insecurity. In Burkina Faso, official estimates are to be released soon but are likely to include over two million people at risk of being directly affected. In
Chad, 13 out of 22 regions could be affected by food insecurity.
According to a press release issued Monday by Oxfam early warning systems have identified a range of factors that are contributing to the coming
crisis. Low rainfall and water levels, poor harvests and lack of pasture, high food prices and a drop in remittances from migrants are all causing serious
National early warning systems show that cereal production is down compared to the five year average, with Mauritania and Chad showing deficits of
over 50% compared to last year. National food reserves are dangerously low, while prices of some key cereals are up to 40% higher than the five year
Whilst an early response to the coming crisis is crucial to protect people in 2012, Oxfam also warned that preventing
future crises would require action to address the root causes and provide longer-term support for the poorest people in a region where 300,000 children
die from malnutrition-related diseases in a ‘non-crisis’ year.
The Sahel region of West Africa last experienced a major food crisis in 2010, which affected ten million people.
Oxfam is calling on governments across the region, who have already recognized the seriousness of the coming crisis, to scale up efforts to make sure people
have money to buy food, receive animal feed for their livestock and emergency food is stocked and ready to be distributed.
WADR’s Ayanava Zananidu spoke to OXFAM Humanitarian Assistance Officer, Steve Cockdern, and asked him how OXFAM’s efforts have been
complemented by governments and other organizations.
Click audio below