Malnutrition has reached critical levels in northern Mali, with one in five households in the Gao and Timbukto regions facing severe food shortages, while one in every five families has a child with severe acute malnutrition in Kidal.
Despite a good rainy season, communities in the Sahel region are once again living under the shadow of a food crisis. It is estimated that 10.3 million people are already at risk of food insecurity.
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As the food crisis in West Africa intensifies, Action Against Hunger teams are on the ground across all the worst affected countries. Download our latest update to find out more about our response.
Little Mariam was severely malnourished and close to death when she arrived at ACF’s feeding centre in Mauritania. Now, just three months later, she has fully recovered and is almost unrecognisable.
As the food crisis intensifies in West Africa, mothers in Senegal are struggling to provide their children with food and clean water
Many families in Kanem in Western Chad rely on herding for their livelihoods. The ongoing crisis across West Africa has pushed many families over the edge, leading to a dramatic increase in child malnutrition.
A huge gap in funding for aid projects aimed at preventing the deepening food crisis in the Sahel is threatening to leave millions of people hungry in the coming months, a coalition of aid agencies has warned today.
“In November and December of last year, we saw an influx of malnourished children but they were at least in a state that allowed us to treat them without too many complications," said Clemence Malet, an Action Against Hunger Nutritionist. "Now, children are arriving in such an advanced state of malnutrition that we cannot always save them. Many are dying on their way to our centres, which is something we rarely saw in previous months.”
As conflict between the Tuareg rebels and the army increases in Mali, Action Against Hunger warns that 20 per cent of families fleeing the violence have at least one child suffering from severe acute malnutrition. The humanitarian organisation plans to assist 8,000 people displaced by the fighting.
For months West Africa has been anticipating a major food crisis, and now even earlier and more severely than expected, the district of Kanem in Western Chad has entered an emergency situation. In neighbouring countries, the situation continues to deteriorate, with one million children at risk of severe acute malnutrition.
The Sahel belt of West Africa is a region rich and diverse in cultural traditions and beliefs, which are often taught from an early age and carried on for life. The tradition that a woman stops breastfeeding her children once she becomes pregnant again to prevent disease, is just one of them.
'Food crises are usually not about the availability of food, but rather about economic access to food in markets. Cash interventions are a relatively new approach for aid organisations and assume that the people we assist are the best placed to decide what their needs are and should be able to choose what they require according to their priorities, which increases their dignity.'
“The lack of rains this year has caused overgrazing of land and this has forced many livestock farming families to sell their animals prematurely, before they are so weak they die, to be able to buy food. This has caused an imbalance between supply and demand of animals in the markets – there are too many to sell and so cattle prices have plummeted, reducing the purchasing power of livestock farmers,.”