The International Development Secretary has declared emergency aid in response to alarming food crisis in the Sahel. He has also urged others to step up efforts.
Across the Sahel, more than 6.8 million people are at danger of severe food shortages due to inadequate rains, poor crop production and a lack of accessibility of pasture for livestock. Moreover, food prices at local markets are far too high for many families to afford.
Britain will send lifesaving emergency aid to help thousands of children facing severe hunger across the Sahel region of West Africa. British support will also provide aid for fodder and vaccinations to keep livestock alive, so that 30,000 people can continue to feed themselves despite the drought. The UK will also support a further 47,000 people through direct transfers, such as food, to the very poorest families. This will prevent them being forced to sell off their livestock and other possessions.
The International Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell said the most important therapeutic food from Britain will reach 68,000 children in Chad, Mali and Niger, three of the countries worst affected by poor harvests.
Mitchell also advised rich countries with a noteworthy presence in West Africa to take the lead on the international response in the same way Britain has led lifesaving efforts in the Horn of Africa. Andrew Mitchell, Secretary of State for International Development, said they knew the crisis was coming and Britain was responding early to warning signs. He added that they were acting now to help thousands of people who were facing a severe food crisis and the aid would help feed children in frantic need and keep vital livestock alive.
Mitchell asserted that the British support would help those in the most immediate danger. But other nations must take up the baton to ensure that the international response is fast and effective. He further said "Britain acted quickly in the Horn of Africa and I strongly urge similarly swift leadership from our partners in the Sahel."
Some British emergency aid is already reaching the region through the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund – to which the Britain is a major contributor. The fund has so far released £7.8 million for initial humanitarian work in Niger and Chad.