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Manchester meets for Sahel crisis

Posted by Eamon Rooke Activism Assistant, north of England

31st Jul 2012

"I don't think we in Britain talk enough about the food crisis facing Chad and the rest of the Sahel region, but it's very important we understand the stakes are high..." - Ivan Lewis, Shadow Minister for International Development

18 million people.

It's hard to get your head around that number. It's even harder to imagine them all without enough food to eat. However, this is the reality for 18 million people in the Sahel region of West Africa.

The reasons for the Sahel food crisis are complex. The solutions even more so. That won't stop Oxfam and our supporters fighting for food for all.

The good news is that there are solutions, and Oxfam has been working with others to deliver them in the heart of the Sahel over the past few months.

Facing forwards

Oxfam supporters recently gathered at the Manchester Art Gallery to learn more about the unfolding crisis and Oxfam's response.

The stunning gallery was jam-packed with Oxfam supporters. In the face of a crisis, it was so inspiring to see a room so full of impassioned people, determined to make a change. There weren't even enough chairs for everyone!

Ruby Wright has just returned from the region. She told us heartbreaking stories of mothers in Chad who no longer promised their children a future. She also told us about the harrowing responsibility of choosing who needs aid the most.

That was followed by a Skype link up with David MacDonald, an Oxfam worker in the region. He described the precarious political situation throughout the Sahel, and how Oxfam was coping with the difficulty in doing simple things, like crossing borders.

After a roaring applause, guests had a ton of questions. One question, however, came up again and again: what can we do?


What caused this crisis? The short answer is 'drought'. As I'm sure you know though, droughts happen all over the world. A drought happened in the north of England a couple of months ago. There's a drought happening somewhere in the USA at some point every month of the year.

Actually, the real causes of this crisis are not natural. They have to do, quite simply, with how we produce and consume food.

Soaring food prices, land grabs, and markets that benefit the few at the expense of the many. This is what a broken food system looks like.

You have the power to change this. Through changing how you eat and grow food, and by putting pressure on the government to support small scale farmers, we can make sure droughts don't end lives. We can create a world with food for all.

Join the movement that's growing a new food future

Blog post written by Eamon Rooke

Activism Assistant, north of England

More by Eamon Rooke