A desperate and largely unknown humanitarian crisis is deteriorating in the Lake Chad Basin region of West Africa, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and leaving millions more in need of humanitarian assistance. Oxfam is providing life-saving support but help is urgently needed to prevent the crisis turning into a catastrophe.
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.
This year Baaba Maal is calling on world leaders to Stand As One with the more than 60 million people who have been forced to flee their homes by conflicts, violence and persecution, and the millions more fleeing natural disasters and poverty.
In 2015, ahead of the talks of the Paris Climate Conference, Baaba shared his experience of the extreme impacts of climate change on his native Senegal and neighbouring Mauritania. In this powerful piece, he remembered how the seasons, the rain and harvests would be celebrated in music; and how, as the land dried up and the crops died, communities stopped singing. Read it here.
In 2003, the African leaders signed the Maputo declaration promising to spend at least 10% of their national budget on agriculture. Ten years later, where are their promises? In October 2013, Baaba Maal led a group of musicans from around Africa, to call on the African Heads of State to keep their promises. Watch the video:
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 helped draw attention to the crisis, which affected one in four people across Mauritania. Baaba met people in the south of the country, not far from his home village in Senegal, and appealed 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.
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 the media, urging them to consider their policy on foreign aid.