Rising food prices in the Sahel

The Urgency of long-term action

Based on a survey by Oxfam International and Save the Children

In the Sahel region of West Africa, the ability to access food has become the key issue in terms of food security.This briefing note summarizes the impacts of rising prices, examines the local factors that have led to this situation and proposes short, medium and long term solutions.Coordinated action is needed from all actors (governments, donors, civil society and the private sector) to find effective solutions to high prices:

  1. Find short and long terms solutions to food and nutritional insecurity of populations affected by rising commodity prices, through more flexible and long-lasting funding mechanisms.
  2. Improve information systems to respond to crises caused by lack of purchasing power rather than lack of production.
  3. Implement social protection strategies and safety nets that reinforce households’ resilience to market inflation in the future.
  4. Implement policies that allow local farmers and pastoralists to benefit from high prices.
  5. Speed up the implementation of the ECOWAP – West Africa’s agricultural development policy – as well as the regional “Offensive for food production and the fight against hunger.”

Good harvests in 2008 in the majority of Sahel countries present an opportunity to improve the resilience of vulnerable households and allow small producers to benefit from the opportunities that higher prices could potentially bring.