13 million people facing catastrophe in West and Central Africa

Posted by Luned Jones Media and Communications Officer, Wales

28th Mar 2012

Oxfam has warned that urgent action must be taken now if we are to prevent a full scale humanitarian crisis in the Sahel region of West and Central Africa. Drought, high food prices, entrenched poverty and regional conflict are behind the crisis. That is why we have launched a £23m emergency appeal to help reach more than 1 million people if the affected countries.

Malnutrition rates hover between 10% and 15% in the affected areas of Chad, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Northern Senegal. In fact in some parts the rate has risen beyond the emergency threshold of 15% putting over 1 million children at risk of severe acute malnutrition.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, agricultural production in the region is down 25% from 2010. Added to this, erratic rains have caused a poor harvest, especially in Niger, Chad, Mauritania, Mali and Burkina and of course people have also yet to recover from the food crisis of 2010.

With the next harvests not due until October a concerted aid is effort is needed now. The UN estimates that $724m is needed to address current need and that could rise as the crisis progresses.

Stephen Doughty, Head of Oxfam Cymru says: "Millions of people are on the threshold of a major crisis. All signs point to a drought becoming a catastrophe if nothing is done soon. The world cannot allow this to happen. A concerted aid effort is needed to stop tens of thousands dying due to international complacency,"

"We witnessed last year the situation spiralling out of control in East Africa as the aid community failed to act swiftly. The worst can be avoided and thousands of lives will be saved if we act now. It's that simple."

Oxfam needs to raise £23m to meet the needs of over 1 million people it plans to help across the Sahel region with vital aid such as food, cash, support to livestock, water, sanitation and hygiene promotion campaigns.

How you can donate

By phone: 0300 200 1999
Online: www.oxfam.org.uk/westafrica

• £25 will vaccinate 15 goats and keep them healthy so vulnerable families have food and an income

• £50 gives three vulnerable people the money they need to buy food and other essentials for the next three months

• £90 provides clean safe drinking water for three families, by building or repairing water sources

Blog post written by Luned Jones

Media and Communications Officer, Wales

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