West Africa food crisis

Throughout 2012 over 18 million people were affected by a severe food crisis caused by drought, a failure of several crops and sharp rises in food prices.

Oxfam provided urgently needed assistance to over 1 million people throughout the year, while over 600,000 of our supporters worldwide joined us in campaigning to raise the alarm and helped mobilise the international community into action.

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Next week, see the launch of the West Africa Zero Hunger Initiative in Accra, Ghana. Here, Jérôme Gérard shares his hopes that West Africa can learn... Read more

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The situation

Food and nutrition crises in the region have grown in frequency and severity since 2005, mostly driven by sporadic rainfall, insufficient local harvests, and high food prices. As a result, people's resilience has been eroded, undermining their capacity to respond to what have become recurrent emergencies. The 2012 crisis was compounded by the conflict in northern Mali, which affected about 400,000 people internally and exacerbated the situation in Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Niger.

At the end of 2012, good rainfall and better harvests provided some relief. Cereal production is 13% higher than last year, but this does not mean the crisis is over. Food prices remain high and many farmers were unable to take advantage of the better rains to plant their crops. Malnutrition rates for children remain above emergency levels in many parts of the region. Millions of people still require sustained support to recover from the crisis, rebuild their assets and livelihoods, and be able to support their families.

Oxfam is dedicated to support small-scale farmers produce more food, support the incomes of the poorest people through social protection programmes, and build systems of food reserves. These are just some of the things that can be done to build the resilience of communities to future shocks, and avoid crises of the future.

Oxfam's response to the West Africa food crisis

Video: Update from Chad

Video: Counting every last drop and grain

Photo gallery

West Africa food crisis response

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