African Cup of Nations: As the final whistle blows, the match against hunger is still to be won in the Sahel

Published: 13th February 2012

Estimates of people in need of assistance in the Sahel increases to over 11 million people, as agency warns humanitarian efforts need to be stepped up in the coming weeks.

International humanitarian agency Oxfam has praised African footballers for joining the fight to mobilize the international community to act swiftly to prevent a possible worsening of the looming food crisis in the Sahel region.

To coincide with the African Cup of Nations, stars including Moumouni Dagano from Burkina Faso, Demba Ba from Senegal, Seydou Keïta from Mali and Lawali Idrissa from Niger have all joined Oxfam’s fight against hunger in their own countries, determined to give more visibility to this crisis in order to save lives and livelihoods.

With official estimates of people requiring assistance over the next six months increasing to over 11 million, and the estimate of resources required to provide that assistance to €700 million, Oxfam is warning that action on the part of the international community will have to increase.

Al Hassan Cissé, Oxfam’s Food Security Policy Advisor in West Africa said “The potential scale of the looming crisis in the Sahel has become clear, and now is the time to mobilise resources to protect the lives and livelihoods of families in the region, and protect children from malnutrition. Every month delayed will make things worse for the most vulnerable communities and increase the cost of the response.

There are some encouraging signs that some donors are coming forward with money early, although a lot more will be needed if we are to act with the scale and the speed required to avoid the worst.”

Last week the European Commission increased its humanitarian aid to the region to €123.5m, Germany announced new support of €12m, and Australia €8m. Other pledges of support, also welcomed by Oxfam, have been received from France and UK, of €17m and €8m respectively.

Oxfam is already providing essential support to protect livelihoods and provide water and sanitation to affected communities across the Sahel, including to Malian refugees in Niger who have fled fighting over the past week.

As the African Cup of Nations closes, and the situation in the Sahel threatens to worsen, footballers will continue to speak out. Demba Ba, Senegal and Newcastle United football star said “It is our duty to commit ourselves to ensuring that hunger is not an option in the 21st century. All of us have to act with determination and courage to stand up for our brothers and sisters across the Sahel region.”

The looming crisis in the Sahel is primarily due to low rainfalls which saw a 25% drop in cereal production in the last harvest, as well as rising food prices that are up to 90% higher than the average for the last five years. The Sahel is a region chronically vulnerable to external shocks such as drought, and Oxfam is also calling for longer-term investment to build people’s resilience so that communities can cope with bad years in order to prevent future crises.

Every month delayed will make things worse for the most vulnerable communities and increase the cost of the response.
Al Hassan Cissé
Oxfam’s Food Security Policy Advisor in West Africa

Notes to editors

Photos link:
All photos should be credited Oxfam.

Dedicated website for the campaign in the Sahel Region.


  • Video Sahel (4 teams):
  • Video Etalons Burkina Faso:
  • Video Aigles du Mali:
  • Video MENA Niger:
  • Video Lions Senegal:
  • Video Demba Ba et Armand Traoré

Contact information

Charles Bambara - Sénégal (Dakar) - - +221 77 639 4178

Irina Fuhrman - Mauritanie - - +222 48021965

Ian Bray - Oxford - +44 (0)7721 461339

Magali Rubino - Paris - +33 630466604