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Oxfam welcomes call for action on the Sahel Food Crisis

15th Feb 2012

Oxfam today welcomed UN agencies, the European Union and USAID's joint call for action to meet the humanitarian needs of over 11 million people in the Sahel, as well longer-term interventions to tackle the underlying causes of hunger and food crises.

Oxfam's Regional Policy Manager in West Africa, Steve Cockburn said

"This is an encouraging sign that the international community is recognising that acting early can save many more lives at much less cost. There is hope that the world has learned the lessons from the devastating food crisis in the Horn of Africa, where delays in responses came at great cost to the lives of the vulnerable communities.

"It is clear that the priority now is to mobilise sufficient funding behind national emergency plans that have been developed by countries in the region, and to get support to all who need it, including those affected by conflict over the last few weeks. We have seen some welcome moves from donors over the last few weeks to increase support to the region, but it is estimated that €700m will be needed over the next six months and we remain very far from that target. It is also essential that food markets across the region remain open to support countries in deficit.

"A focus on long-term solutions to breaking the hunger cycle in the Sahel is also much needed. Promoting financial safety nets for poor communities, boosting food reserves and investing in sustainable agriculture will be essential to ending the cycle of crises that so many families find themselves in."

11.8 million people in the Sahel region of West Africa are threatened by a food crisis in 2012 after poor rains led to a 25 per cent reduction in cereal production and rising food prices across the region.

Last week the European Commission increased its humanitarian aid to the region to €123.5m, Germany announced new support of €12m, and Australia €8m. Other pledges of support, also welcomed by Oxfam, have been received from France and UK, of €17m and €8m respectively. According to the European Commission, €700m will be needed over the next month.

Governments across the region have developed national emergency plans and signed a 'Charter on Food Crisis Prevention and Management' that provides a framework for an effective response, including commitments to ensure regional food markets remain open.



Note to the editors

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