An icon of West African music, Senegalese singer Baaba Maal has achieved global recognition, performed for heads of state and been nominated for a Grammy award.
He is also internationally renowned for his commitment to development in Africa, and has endeavored to draw attention to issues including women’s rights, the ravages caused by AIDS, climate change, the importance of aid and the current food crisis. A charismatic and dynamic ambassador for Oxfam, Baaba speaks with passion and authority about Africa and its future.
In 2007, Baaba performed and spoke at the Live Earth concert in South Africa. In the same year, at Oxfam’s request, he appeared on the reality television show, Big Brother Africa, to talk to the housemates about HIV/Aids and education. In 2009, on behalf of Oxfam, he wrote to G8 heads of State and themedia, urging them to consider their policy on foreign aid.
In February 2012, Baaba travelled with Oxfam to the Gorgol region of Mauritania, where he discovered the harsh reality for communities at the center of the current food crisis in the Sahel.
Media coverage around his visit has helped draw attention to the situation. Low rainfall, poor harvests, a lack of pasture and rising food prices are among the factors driving this crisis, which now touches one in four people across Mauritania. Baaba met people in the south of the country, not far from his home village in Senegal. He launched an appeal to the international community for urgent action:
“We cannot watch and do nothing while our brothers and sisters in Mauritania are victims of such a crisis. I have been able to see the solutions that are being put in place. We have to support and strengthen them."
In July 2012, Baaba set up a personal appeal for $5,000 for communities in the Sahel.
More than 18 million people across West and Central Africa are facing a food crisis - urgent action is needed to avoid the worst. Oxfam is gearing up our response: we hope to reach 1.2 million people across Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Senegal with humanitarian aid. We are also calling for long term interventions to strengthen people’s resilience and enable them to cope with bad years.
Issue Briefing: Food Crisis in the Sahel: Five steps to break the hunger cycle in 2012 (April 2012)