WHD 2013

Friday, September 28, 2012

Next stop: Resilience

 by David Gressly, Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel


This week, I have attended  the opening of the High-Level event on the Sahel in New York.  It has been a difficult year for the people in the Sahel, but we have been able to contain the food and nutrition crisis thanks to an early and generous donor response. The situation has improved. While 18 million people are still affected, most communities across the Sahel are now receiving appropriate support.  Partners have scaled up the general food distribution and nutrition assistance since the beginning of the lean season in July.

With the onset of abundant rains, there is now a prospect for good harvests in 2012.  If all goes well, this will be positive news for 2013.In the meantime, however, we need to maintain our momentum to get through this crisis. And for this to happen, we still need to ensure sufficient funding for sectors critical to the response, such as water, education, and the needs of Malian refugees and IDPs.

2013 is key

This is the time to tackle the chronic structural problems that we see across the Sahel. Even in a good year with plentiful rains, a quarter million children will die of malnutrition unless the structural problems are also addressed. That is why we are pushing, with many other partners and governments, an agenda on resilience to increase the capacity of these same households to absorb the shocks of drought and high prices.  As a result, they will be better positioned every year to deal with the kind of stress that exists in the Sahel.

Building resilience 


People in the Sahel are by nature extremely resilient individuals, but this is a tough environment. The first key will be to work with communities to rebuild after the 2012 crisis.  This means restocking and making sure they have the right seed to re-establish their livelihoods. And longer term requires long improvement in agricultural productivity, linked to better water management for example. Social Safety nets will be important aspects to ensure that everybody has good access to food. In addition to that, it will be critical to support  programs that promote nutrition and health services to control diseases such as cholera and vaccination for children .


  1. Hi David, you are doing a great work in the region. How will be your work influenced by the announcement of Ban Ki Moon to send a special UN envoy to the region?

  2. On parle de la résilience, mais qu´est ce que cela veut dire exactement? On n´entend que cela partout.