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WFP Warns of Growing Challenges as Drought-stricken Sahel Enters Hunger Season

DAKAR – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today warned of growing needs in the Eastern Sahel region of West Africa, where some 10 million people are facing a challenging season of hunger before the next harvest is due in September.

“The Sahel is one of the most destitute regions in the world and the spectre of hunger is pushing increasing numbers of people from the countryside and into cities where they are searching for food to feed their families,” said Thomas Yanga, WFP Regional Director for West Africa. “People have lost crops, livestock, and the ability to cope on their own, and the levels of malnutrition among women and children have already risen to very high levels.”
Yanga said despite efforts by governments and humanitarian agencies and non-governmental organizations, the situation in Sahel regions of eastern Mali, northern Cameroon, Chad and Niger is critical and more contributions are urgently needed to ease the suffering of the 3.6 million drought victims WFP is planning to assist.

    NIGER:  A government-led food security survey this month has confirmed the critical situation, finding nearly half of the population to be food insecure -- 3.3 million people highly food insecure and 3.8 million moderately food insecure. So far, the World Food Programme is planning to provide assistance to save lives and boost the nutrition of some 2.3 million people in the worst-affected areas. To do so, WFP needs US$125 million to scale up feeding from May to December 2010.

    CHAD:  2 million people require assistance due to poor harvests and unusually high rates of acute malnutrition are reported. WFP has launched an emergency operation to assist more than 700,000 people hit by drought in western and central regions.

    CAMEROON:  the 2009 cereal harvest in the North was 10 percent below the five-year average and 19 percent below the previous year’s production. Flooded valleys that are usually watering points for cattle dried up earlier than usual. WFP has responded with an emergency operation to feed 339,000 vulnerable people from June 2010 to 30 April 2011.

    MALI:  late and erratic rains in the Northeast during the last two crop seasons led to poor agro-pastoral production, resulting in more than 20 municipalities being declared highly food insecure. An estimated 258,000 people most at risk are currently receiving emergency food assistance from the government, WFP and humanitarian partners.