A massive increase in investment in resilience, and an improvement in existing systems of food crisis management and prevention are needed if there is to be sustainable improvement in the worsening hunger crisis gripping the Sahel region, said Oxfam together with Action Against Hunger and Save the Children. The call comes in a new report launched as regional politicians and experts attend this week’s Food Crisis Prevention Network meeting in Gambia. The Sahel is currently facing the world’s fastest rise in food insecurity – with an increase of more than 13 million people over the last 11 years.
In the report, “Priority to Communities’ Resilience and Development in the Sahel”, Oxfam and the other agencies advocate a comprehensive and sustainable approach to fighting hunger in the Sahel. On a regional level, countries have succeeded in establishing a unique system to prevent and manage food crises, what is lagging behind is investment in communities’ resilience to create long-term and fundamental change.
Alba Domínguez Tomé, Regional Humanitarian Advisor for Save the Children West and Central Africa, said: "Children are the most affected in the Sahel. The situation is very disturbing. In 2018, 1.3 million children under the age of five suffer from acute malnutrition, the highest number in at least a decade, and an increase of more than 50% from 2017.”
Hunger is not inevitable in the Sahel: it can be defeated by investing in people’s capacities to guarantee their food and nutritional security in the long term. Vulnerable communities - especially pastoralists - must be better taken into account and women and civil society must be at the heart of initiatives and devices. Concretely, such a broader and more sustainable approach would include support through social protection and honoring agricultural commitments, with countries devoting at least 10% of their budget to agriculture.
Ahead of Thursday’s meeting of G5 Sahel donors in Nouakchott, the agencies are urging politicians to resist the temptation to see the issues of the Sahel region through the prism of security or migration when its people are facing growing hunger by the day.
Chloé Schmitt, Humanitarian Coordinator for Oxfam in West Africa, said: "Securing is not developing, the priority of all stakeholders must be to strengthen the resilience of communities. Development aid must respond first and foremost to the needs of the population, not to the security objectives of the states.”
Judith Kaboré, Action Against Hunger's Regional Advocacy Officer, said: "A Sahel without hunger is possible, we can break the vicious cycle. To achieve this, the urgency is to strengthen the place of humanitarian, development and the protection of civilians and put them at the heart of regional priorities.”