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.
The people of Africa’s Sahel region are facing an increasing risk of widespread food crisis, following a series of crises over recent years which has slashed incomes, undermined livelihoods and reduced their borrowing capacity. Low rainfall, abnormally high grain prices and increased insecurity in part of the region have contributed to their vulnerability.
It is estimated that more than 18 million people are currently in a situation of food insecurity in the Sahel, where even in a good harvest year, malnutrition rates are among the highest in the world. Markets in the region are already showing signs that regional trade in agricultural produce will be unable to supply adequate quantities of food in the coming months, increasing the risk of a worsening food security situation.
Oxfam, ROPPA, RBM, APESS, POSCAO and WILDAF are calling for urgent action to support the markets of the region and to allow the people of the Sahel to access food in adequate quantities and quality in the approach to and throughout the hunger gap.
The member states, ECOWAS and the international community should:
- In the short term, support people’s purchasing power and the functioning of regional markets (by facilitating the movement of grain within the region), while anticipating the risks of major disruption to the markets over the coming months;
- In the medium term, member states and ECOWAS should build capacities to regulate markets (national and regional), in particular by implementing the ECOWAS food security storage strategy.