Monday, February 3, 2014

UN seeks $2 billion to tackle hunger in the Sahel

Misha Hussain at the Thomson Reuters Foundation: The United Nations appealed on Monday for $2 billion to feed and care for a record 20 million people across Africa's Sahel belt, urging donors to tackle a deteriorating humanitarian situation in a region where food insecurity has almost doubled in a year.

Conflict in Mali, Nigeria, Sudan and Central African Republic has disrupted markets and aggravated food shortages across the Sahel which suffers regular droughts and cyclical floods as well as locust infestations and epidemics.

Over 1.6 million people have abandoned their homes and half of those have sought refuge in impoverished countries throughout the savannah region that are already struggling to look after their own populations, said the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

“This year is make or break for the Sahel. Donors have to show more ambition than in previous years to fund the Sahel. We have to work fast because if we don’t, the cycle of drought that is reality for the Sahel will catch up with us. It’s a race against time,” Robert Piper, the U.N. regional humanitarian coordinator for the Sahel, told Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Food insecurity – a measure of hunger within a population due to conflict or climate – surged across the Sahel during 2013. But funding for this new appeal may fall short because of the slow global economic recovery and competing demands on donor resources.

International donors have already been asked to respond to multiple crises in Africa as well as a $6.5 billion appeal for Syria, the largest in U.N. history. Last year, donors met just 63 percent of the $1.7 billion Sahel U.N. appeal....

A NOAA shot on the road between Bamako and Kayes in Mali

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