Sahel Crisis: A crucial conference
Ged Barker UK Campaigns Digital Team Lead
15th Jun 2012
On Monday 18 June a high level meeting on the Sahel food crisis is being held in Brussels. This is a crucial opportunity for governments to show they are giving their fair share towards the food crisis and investing more in long term solutions to break the hunger cycle in the region.
Since the first warnings of drought and poor harvests in the Sahel emerged in late 2011, vulnerable communities in many parts of the Sahel region across West and Central Africa have been threatened by a looming food crisis. The crisis is now real, with more than 18 million people in seven countries vulnerable to its impact, and 6 million severely food insecure. We are urging the government to act now to stop a crisis turning into a catastrophe and you can help.
Overall, the UN has estimated now that at least 18.4 million people are vulnerable to the effects of the food crisis and will need assistance. It calculates that $1.5 billion in international aid is needed to address current needs.
We are asking for action to save lives and money now, but also to invest in long-term solutions that ensure food crises like this become a thing of the past. This means giving people the means to cope with future droughts by investing in small-scale farmers to boost food production, building food reserves to protect against future crises, and developing social safety nets to support the incomes of the poorest families.
Monday's half day meeting has been called by Kristalina Georgieva, EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs, and will take place at the European Commission in Brussels. A number of States have been invited to attend as well as representatives from international organisations. The meeting will focus on addressing both the short-term emergency and long-term resilience needs in the region.
We are very pleased by the initiative and leadership shown by EC to hold this High Level Consultation meeting at critical juncture for the Sahel. Given that communities in the Sahel are set to enter the peak of the food crisis, discussions are beginning on pathways for sustainable security and well-being for the people in northern Mali, and discussions on resilience and breaking the cycle of drought are gathering pace, the meeting could not be more timely or more important.
We hope that the UK swiftly adds to its current welcome contribution with a further £10 million in line with the UK's fair share of the global aid effort. This crisis can only be adequately addressed through a genuinely international effort so we support the government's efforts to persuade other nations to act - and sincerely hope these are continued on Monday. We intend to keep the pressure on the UK government and you can help by taking this action.
Let's hope that governments send representatives prepared to make decisions and that a concrete outcome is reached that benefits the people of the Sahel region.