A food crisis is affecting over 15 million people in eight countries across the Sahel. UNICEF is extremely concerned for one million children under five with severe malnutrition who need lifesaving treatment to survive.
Across the region, crops have failed and food prices are rising. Adding to this, insecurity in Nigeria, Niger, Mauritania and Mali is making the nutrition crisis worse and access more difficult.
UNICEF is currently working to establish and expand the safety nets for both prevention and treatment of severe malnutrition. Donate now to save lives.
We know that these situations require much more than emergency response. That’s why we’re also working to address the structural causes of chronic malnutrition, through increased and equitable access to basic social services, social protection measures, support to sustainable livelihoods and behavioral change.
It costs just €55 to treat and save a child suffering from severe acute malnutrition. Please help us save children's lives.
The situation in the Sahel
The crisis worsens an already fragile situation. Countries in West Africa have some of the highest mortality rates in the world:
- one in five children dies before the age of five.
- severely malnourished children are nine times more likely to die from preventable diseases.
Humanitarian needs cut across the Sahel belt, and include Chad, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, northern Nigeria, northern Cameroon and parts of the north in Senegal
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Niger has the greatest numbers of malnourished children and high levels of chronic food insecurity. More than 330,000 children under the age of five are at risk of severe malnutrition, and the Government has issued an alert that more than half of all villages do not have enough food.
Diseases such as cholera, measles, polio are of grave concern. Lastly, 220,000 migrant workers have returned from Libya due to the violence, reducing remittances and support to families.
Hunger, displacement and disease mark the lives of millions in Chad. More than 125,000 children under the age of 5 are suffering from malnutrition. Over 1.3 million people do not have enough to eat.
In addition, Chad hosts 350,000 refugees from Sudan and the Central African Republic and has almost 300,000 people displaced by conflict in eastern Chad and Libya. Children and women are at risk from trafficking, exploitation, recruitment into armed groups and sexual violence. Epidemics such as meningitis, cholera, measles and polio are exacerbated.
UNICEF acting now
UNICEF knows it is much cheaper to prevent child malnutrition than to provide emergency treatment. We have to do all we can to identify and reduce risks, invest in health care and ensure adequate child nutrition monitoring systems are in place so that we can prevent a famine.
UNICEF has been acting early to mitigate the impact of the drought, but the threat of a severe food crisis continues to grow. To prevent a widescale emergency, UNICEF is working with others to ensure that countries across the Sahel are better prepared for a crisis by providing them with life-saving supplies now.
In 2011, UNICEF increased the delivery of lifesaving interventions to more than 700,000 children suffering from severe malnutrition throughout the Sahel.
In Niger, UNICEF will help to stop child hunger through mass feeding programmes in the most affected areas. More than 330,000 children under 5 suffering from severe malnutrition will be monitored and treated. UNICEF will also help to increase the resilience of the poorest households against malnutrition and disease through vaccination and hygiene promotion.
In Chad, more than 125,000 malnourished children in the Sahel belt will be treated through community-level nutrition services. Vulnerable children will be identified and monitored to ensure they receive prompt assistance. UNICEF will also support the distribution of therapeutic food for affected communities.
Drought-affected communities across the region will also be provided with clean water as well as sanitation services, including supplies of items such as water jerry cans, collapsible water tanks, oral rehydration salts, basic family water kits and tents.
Children need your help
UNICEF has the right systems in place to deal with the threat of child hunger, but we need your support to provide enough supplies and services to vulnerable children in region.
Donate to our Children's Emergency Fund now.
This winter, droughts and rising food prices in West Africa have put more than a million children at risk of starvation. Right now, the countries of West Africa have among the highest mortality rates in the world. One in five children die before the age of five.
To prevent a wide-scale emergency, UNICEF and its partners are beginning to send life-sustaining supplies to the region before it is too late.
Just €5 will help UNICEF feed a malnourished child for a week. Please donate to our emergency work for children today.
Related News Items
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
As the rainy season unfolds across the Sahel, a recent upsurge of cholera that has killed over 60 people and sickened about 2,800 this year is putting more and more people – especially malnourished children – at risk, UNICEF warned today.
Friday, June 22, 2012
UNICEF urgently requires $146 million to address the humanitarian needs of children and women in the Sahel in 2012
Friday, May 18, 2012
UNICEF Ireland Executive Director Peter Power's video diary from his third day in Eastern Chad near the Sahara Desert.
Friday, May 11, 2012
The lives of 1,000,000 children are at risk right now in the Sahel region in West and Central Africa. Crops have failed. Families have nothing to eat. Peter Power, Executive Director of UNICEF Ireland, travels to Chad to draw further attention to this looming crisis as UNICEF continues to rush food, nutrition and other emergency relief to help children in the region.