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Sahel Hunger Emergency 

Crisis worsens as region faces “lean season”


The humanitarian emergency in drought-ravaged West Africa will worsen in coming months as the food crisis, which has already claimed young lives, enters its most severe period.

Over 18 million people across the Sahel region of West Africa are facing an extreme hunger crisis triggered by crop shortages, rising food prices and political insecurity in neighbouring countries. Young children are smaller, weaker and far more vulnerable, so their chances of survival are lower.

Save the Children has scaled up our emergency operations in the Sahel and have reached over 300,000 people with life-saving programs. Throughout 2012 we are aiming to assist 1.5 million people – including almost a million children who face starvation – but we are facing a funding shortfall.

“Mothers have told me they have little or no food to feed their children,” said Annie Bodmer-Roy, a Save the Children aid worker. “With more funding we will be able to increase our life-saving interventions, including nutrition, health and securing access to food for the most vulnerable families.”

The time to act is now. Any further delays are sure to cost additional lives of children whose deaths we know how to prevent – and can prevent, with your help.

Please DONATE NOW to help save lives in West Africa.


Emergency Response


Recent assessments from Save the Children - compiled with government, UN and other aid agency partners - reveal that the poorest families in the Sahel region will not be able to survive the coming months without urgent help.

These assessments have confirmed our worst fears: the Sahel crisis is now an emergency.

In parts of Mauritania, the poorest households are missing almost 80 per cent of their basic needs for the months of June and July – and have already faced hardship since January. As of this month in Burkina Faso, the poorest families will be missing 70 per cent of what they need to survive the next four months – unless they get help immediately.

We continue to scale up our food security, nutrition and health, education, child protection, water and sanitation and livelihood programs to provide an integrated package of support for families.

Acting now will save lives.

Please support our appeal today.



Adama, 25, sits with her 15-month-old child at a stabilisation center in Burkina Faso.


Save the Children is a member of the HUMANITARIAN COALITION, a network of Canadian humanitarian organizations that unite during emergencies to bring urgent assistance. To find out more, visit www.together.ca




Save the Children is prioritising food security and livelihoods to ensure a preventative and resilience-building approach. Across the four countries we aim to reach nearly 510,000 children and adults with a range of support, including improving agricultural and gardening practices and providing food and vaccinations to livestock.

  • In Niger we have already supported 50,800 children and their families to access food and other essential goods.
  • We are the leader in the innovative and highly effective Household Economy Approach (HEA), which analyses the vulnerability of households and can act as an important part of the early warning system. We have been involved in HEA analyses in Niger, Nigeria, Mali, Mauritania and Burkina Faso and they have all indicated increased vulnerability for thousands of poor households across West Africa. This HEA analysis has ensured an informed and appropriate response.



We must work to prevent and treat malnutrition across West Africa, where many countries already suffer from high levels of chronic malnutrition, causing stunting amongst children. We plan to reach over 800,000 children and adults across Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Niger through scaling up our integrated health and nutrition support, such as educating mothers in nutrition and distributing supplementary food rations.

  • In Niger and Burkina Faso we have already reached over 76,000 children and mothers with nutrition support.
  • In Mauritania we will conduct nutritional education in the communities where we implement other food security and livelihoods activities, to ensure an integrated package of support.


Save the Children knows that to improve children’s nutrition and the resilience of their families to drought and hunger, we must improve immediate and long-term access to drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) practices. We aim to reach over 260,000 children and adults with our WASH programmes, which include distributing hygiene kits, rehabilitating wells and toilets in schools and hospitals and teaching communities on hygiene practises.

  • In Niger we have conducted a WASH assessment and plan to target 20,000 vulnerable people.
  • In Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso we will support health centres to provide a safe medical environment and safe drinking water to patients and nearby communities.


Save the Children supports a network of community health workers across West Africa. We will aim to reach over 620,000 children and women throughout 2012 across West Africa, by training hundreds of community volunteers and health staff to spot and treat the early signs of malnutrition, and by training traditional birth attendants.

  • In Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali we will work to improve knowledge and usage of infant and young child feeding practises as well as vaccinating children against the key childhood illnesses, including measles.
  • In Niger we have already reached nearly 203,000 children and mothers with nutrition support.


increased migration often means children are alone and therefore vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. There are already reports of children are dropping out of school to support their families’ income and to reduce costs. Across the region we plan to reach over 120,000 children with protection activities and support over 99,000 children with access to education

  • In Burkina Faso we have already distributed education kits and new-born kits to families in a refugee camp near Ouagadougou.
  • In Niger we carried out a child protection and education assessment that highlights the structural, underlying threats to children’s protection, such as child labour and barriers to children accessing education.

Please donate now.



 Longer-term planning


Countries in the region  are vulnerable to the effects of climate-change and we need to plan for long-term needs that will result from this. These needs must be addressed in order to break this cycle of drought and hunger. Save the Children is already developing a program of activities to reduce the effects of disaster through creating ‘special reserves’ of farmland and wetland in Niger, but we need the funds to be able to do more. Save the Children is working to improve long-term access to healthcare and clean water, and helping farmers to adapt to the changing climate.

How you can help


Please support our Sahel appeal today.


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