It is more bad news and can we expect anything else but more bad news?
What is described as the lean season has started.
9.7 million people are projected to be food insecure in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger, and the situation is deteriorating fast.
“In Niger food consumption is already very degraded in almost all regions, and the emergency thresholds set by World Health Organisation for global acute malnutrition and severe acute malnutrition have already been exceeded” warns Mohamed Bah, Country Director in Niger, before adding: “Now, the response to the food crisis has become our top priority.”
In Burkina Faso and Mali, the trend is worsening as well, as the armed conflict continues to expand. Agricultural output forecasts show a 12% drop in regional cereal production compared to last year, with Niger (-36 %) reporting the steepest decline.
“2021 saw a drastic increase in humanitarian needs in the Central Sahel, reaching 14.7 million people in need of life-saving assistance early 20224 , at the same time only 41% of the funds required by the humanitarian community to respond to urgent needs in the Central Sahel were met, and even only 38% for Mali”
As of 27 June, the three countries' Humanitarian Response Plans were only 15% funded, according to OCHA. “Mobilization of international public opinion, governments, and donors is highly needed. Beyond Ukraine, the Central Sahel crisis demands attention more than ever before, and especially to avert a full-blown food crisis”
In the Central Sahel prolonged conflict is the main driver of a dramatic food crisis, combined with an ever-increasing mass displacement, global food shortages and climate shocks.
Yaouba Kaigama, Country Director in Burkina Faso, adds about the current situation: “In addition to attacks on civilians, non-state armed groups loot and destroy crops, steal livestock, and extort money from communities, starving hundreds of thousands of families. Markets in affected areas are no longer functional or operate at a slower pace.”
Prices for agricultural items including fertiliser are also progressively skyrocketing, impacting agricultural production and crops. The scaling up of the response to meet the urgent needs of people is hampered by an insufficiency of funding, and the crisis is outpacing the response.
“We would like to call on the attention of the humanitarian community to the specific and serious consequences of the food crisis on girls, which further expose them to all forms of gender-based violence and put their future at risk. They have unique needs which are overlooked, with devastating consequences on their wellbeing, in particular when they live in crisis settings for years” says Constant Tchona, Country Director in Mali.