WHD 2013

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

SAHEL: What went right in the crisis response?

By IRIN http://www.irinnews.org

Sahelians are used to living on the edge and doing all they can to overcome adversity. In 2011, the combined shocks of ongoing high food prices, an end to remittances from Libya, poor harvests across much of the region, and conflict in northern Mali, had a disproportionate effect on the fragile food security situation and the region’s economy: An estimated 18.7 million people are at risk of hunger and 1.1 million at risk of severe malnutrition this year.

National malnutrition referral systems are improving across region. CREDIT: IRIN

The situation catalysed the largest humanitarian response the region has ever seen and it is widely agreed that this helped avert a large-scale disaster. As Martin Dawes, West Africa media head of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), put it: “The greatest success is that the severest form of African clichés was avoided, based on timely intervention.”

IRIN spoke to aid agencies, donors and Sahel experts to find out where the crisis response worked better this year.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Protecting people´s livelihoods NOW will help build resilience for TOMORROW

Sahel crisis: FAO´s Regional Strategic Response Framework


The crisis affecting the Sahel is complex, multidimensional and driven by chronic vulnerabilities. Erratic rains are causing the quality and output of harvests to decrease, high levels of food prices persist, regional insecurity in some countries continues and the threat of a desert locust infestation could affect the livelihoods of 50 million people.

FAO is strongly committed to support the Sahel crisis and has prepared a response framework entitled Strategic Response Framework for the 2012 Food and Nutrition Crisis in the Sahel(last update July 2012).

Resilience: New Wine In Old Bottles?

Interview by Caroline Hurford, WFP

The term resilience has entered the aid lexicon. But is it just “new wine in old bottles”? Haven’t aid agencies already been seeking to build resilience among beneficiaries for decades?  To find out, we spoke to David Gressly, who was appointed Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for Sahel earlier this year.

  Download interview with David Gressly

David Gressly. CREDIT: UNOCHA

 Follow on twitter @WFP @WFPAfrica @CarolineHurford

Friday, October 26, 2012

Ending the Everyday Emergency: Resilience and Children in the Sahel

By World Vision & Save the Children

A recent study by World Vision and Save the Children entitled “Ending the Everyday Emergency” highlights the underlying factors in West Africa that are contributing to the food crisis and putting more than one million children at risk of severe malnutrition. It also identifies the opportunities being missed by governments to fix them.

Hit by successive food crises in 2005, 2008 and 2010, the people of Sahel need to build their resilience to such shocks that have been occurring more frequently, barely providing families enough time and ability to fully recover from the previous crisis. A united approach is needed to tackle the root causes of massive food shortages and ending recurring malnutrition in the region.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

PHOTOS: Desert Locust warning

Swarms forming in the Sahel

Facebook and twitter : faolocust
Desert Locust swarms are present in Chad and should start forming shortly in Niger and Mali. The swarms are expected to move towards North-West Africa in the coming weeks. Although unusually favourable ecological conditions allowed two generations of breeding this summer, the rains have ended and vegetation is drying out. This will cause locusts to concentrate and group in those areas that are still green in the Sahel and form hopper bands and swarms during the remainder of October and in November. See pictures below taken in Niger in mid-October. 

Green vegetation and late instar hopper bands 15 km east of Arlit, Niger
 in mid October (source: CNLA/Niger)

Late instar hopper bands 15 km east of Arlit, Niger
 in mid October (source: CNLA/Niger)

See more pictures

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Islamic Cooperation and UN´s commitment to strenghten resilience in the Sahel region

A high-level humanitarian partnership mission to the Sahel region of West Africa, led jointly by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), ended its visit in Burkina Faso last Sunday, after spending time in Mali and Niger.

Their commitment: working together to strengthen resilience in the Sahel region

Girls from Mentao Refugee Camp, Burkina Faso, greet OCHA – OIC visitors. CREDIT: UNOCHA
A Malian refugee representative shares messages from the community with the OIC Mission during a visit to Mentao Refugee Camp, Burkina Faso. CREDIT: UNOCHA

Want to know more about the mission in Burkina Faso?

Want to know more about the mission in Mali?

Fighting child hunger and malnutrition in Mali and worldwide

Story and photos by Justin Douglass, World Vision Mali

October 16 was World Food Day. The story of baby Marie in Mali highlights the importance of finding long-term, sustainable solutions for hunger and child malnutrition around the world — and what we’re doing to accomplish just that.

People who saw Marie were worried.

The 18-month-old girl was too thin. She had a cough, and there was something wrong with her throat.
A community health worker encouraged Marie’s parents to take the baby girl to the health center in their region of Mali.

Baby Marie is given a peanut based nutritional suppl.

“I am concerned about what to do in the future, and concerned about the future of Marie,” says Hawa, Marie’s mother. “I think about Marie’s food and her health.”

Monday, October 22, 2012

« Maman Légumes » et la résilience au Sénégal


Par Esther Huerta García, Chargée de Communication/Médias Sociaux - OCHA Sahel Team

Dakar, Senegal. La définition du terme « résilience » est très large. Dans le monde humanitaire, le terme est connu comme « la capacité des populations à résister aux chocs ».

 De mon point de vue, une façon facile d´avoir une  définition concrète de la résilience est de mettre un pied dans le Sahel; au Sénégal, par exemple.  Ici, vous n´avez plus besoin de dictionnaires pour comprendre, puisque la résilience est un parfum qui se respire dans tous les coins.

Joséphine dans son stand de fruits et légumes- CRÉDIT: EHG

Joséphine en ai un exemple. Elle s´appelle Joséphine mais la plupart des gens du quartier la connaissent comme « Maman Légumes »

Friday, October 19, 2012

Common UN Approach on Resilience Building in the Sahel

September 2012

  By the UN 

CREDIT: OCHA Chad- Pierre Peron


"Too often households and communities do not have the capability to withstand the damaging effects of the multiple climate and market shocks they are facing.

The repeated humanitarian crises in the Sahel are due to a failure of development. A strategy of resilience should therefore directly support those households most vulnerable to humanitarian crises so that they can better absorb shocks, rebuild after a crisis and support a longer-term transformation through education and livelihoods diversification. An effective resilience program should support improved agricultural productivity with a particular emphasis on women’s role in agriculture, promote resilient behavioral practices, encourage sustainable livelihoods, diversification of revenues, and sustainable natural resource management, scale up coverage of basic social services, strengthen early warning and risk management systems, and extend social protection coverage to vulnerable households."

Find here an extract of the Action Plan developed by the United Nations in July 2012, outlining a common approach on resilience building in the Sahel region.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

MALI: Children take up guns

By Katarina Höije, IRIN

Children as young as 14 are joining military training camps run by militias in southern Mali preparing to fight Islamist groups in the north. At the same time, Islamist groups in the north are recruiting children as young as 11 to man checkpoints, gather intelligence, search vehicles and patrol the streets in Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal, according to aid agencies and human rights groups.

Youth and children training. Credit IRIN

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

World Food Day in the Sahel: a picture is worth a thousand words!

Journée  Mondiale de l´alimentation au Sahel: Une photo vaut  mille mots!



Monday, October 15, 2012

Celebrities lending their Voices to GROW

 By Abdulazeez Musa – Livelihood & Private Sector Coordinator, Oxfam GB Nigeria


The GROW campaign in Nigeria has been working with 3 popular Nigerian artist; Sound Sultan, Lami and 2face to raise awareness and mobilize support for small scale agriculture. They have so far held two press conferences led a twitter campaign and produced a song—Act 4 Africa as part of the campaign. The song is being used to further reinforce the message of the campaign to a larger audience and awaken a broader consciousness on the current food crisis especially in the Sahel. The song is being played on several radio stations across the country and has already started generating the appropriate level of interest intended.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Comment les femmes et les filles peuvent transformer les catastrophes en opportunités

par le Groupe Régional pour la Réduction des Risques de Catastrophes en Afrique de l´Ouest (qui comprend ACF, BANQUE MONDIALE, ECHO, FAO, FICR, OCHA, HCDH, OIM, OMS, OXFAM, PAM, PLAN INTERNATIONAL, SAVE THE CHILDREN, UNDP-BCPR, UNHCR, UNICEF, et  VISION MONDIALE)

Les crises successives qui ont touché l’Afrique de l’Ouest telles que les inondations, l’épidémie de choléra, la crise alimentaire et nutritionnelle au Sahel et le conflit au Mali ont affecté essentiellement les populations les plus vulnérables, notamment les femmes et les filles. Les femmes ont cependant un rôle clé à jouer dans la prévention de ces catastrophes, et pourraient par la même bénéficier d’une opportunité unique de jouer un rôle plus visible dans la société.  Le rôle des femmes est essentiel pour contribuer à renforcer la résilience des communautés.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Photo: Briefing with Canada Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Dakar- Senegal

Canada steps up support to Senegal


Canada Prime Minister Stephen Harper is in Senegal. During a briefing with UN agencies today, he stressed that Canada was not indifferent to the food and nutrition crisis raging in the region. Canada, he said, will make a new aid contribution to help fight hunger and malnutrition, restore the agriculture sector and prevent future humanitarian crisis in Senegal.  

Briefing with Canada Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Right), Said Djinnit, SRSG for West Africa (left), and representatives from WFP, UNDC, OCHA and the Resident Coordinator (left side of the table)

Video: Assessment on the situation in the Sahel region in 2013

Interview featuring David Gressly, Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel


David Gressly, Regional Humanitarian Coordinator, was recently interviewed by Reuters in his office, in Dakar- Senegal, on the incoming situation in the Sahel.

"The kind of acute crisis we saw in 2012 will hopefully not be repeated in 2013, but that does not mean the job is done."

Watch David Gressly ´s video interview with Reuters (all rights Reuters, download/distribution not permitted):

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

ECHO ´s new space on resilience

What is resilience? How the European Commission is helping communities build resilience to shocks? These are some of questions that the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO) is trying to answer in its current web space dedicated to resilience.

In Africa alone, recent and recurrent crises have affected 31 million people in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel. A sustained policy to increase the resilience of vulnerable people in the developing world is needed so they can better withstand and cope with disasters.

Enter ECHO´s page on Resilience

Monday, October 8, 2012

Video: David Gressly shares updates on the Sahel crisis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)

The Sahel region, which spans across nine African countries, is estimated to have more than 18 million people facing food insecurity due to the combination of drought, political instability, and high food prices. Although international organizations and governments acted on the early warning signs of food insecurity earlier in 2011, an emergency response is still vital, but long-term, structured, development efforts are also essential.

David Gressly, the UN Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel, shares updates on the crisis and the humanitarian relief efforts the United Nations currently has underway. Ms. Johanna Nesseth Tuttle, Director of the Global Food Security Project, moderates the discussion.

Watch David Gressly´s video

Friday, October 5, 2012

Sahel locust threat: millions of dollars can be saved

...if there is good early warning followed by early response to locust threats before they become completely out of hand.

by Keith Cressman
Senior Locust Forecasting Officer,
FAO, Rome

This year the Sahel is facing the most serious Desert Locust threat since the last plague in 2003-05. More than 50 million people could be affected in Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.

The threat originated further north along the Libyan/Algerian border at the beginning of the year. Normally, both countries can easily manage locust infestations in their territories. However, this year was different. The infestations occurred in a border area that was insecure. Although both countries managed to undertake survey and control operations during the spring, they could not stop the formation of hopper bands and adult swarms. When the vegetation in both countries started to dry out in May, the swarms moved south to greener pastures.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

In drought-stricken Niger, the rain brought more despair than relief


by Laurent Duvillier, Regional Communication Specialist for West and Central Africa, UNICEF


In the humid and cold country where I come from, rain is an unpleasant and loyal companion of the every day life. Yet, it rarely causes as much despair and devastation as the torrential showers that have severely hit several areas across the Sahel over the past weeks.

One would think that in the drought-stricken Niger, long-awaited rainfalls would be welcome as a blessing. But they have turned out to be rather a curse, when pouring down several times a week. The resulting flash floods in different parts of this Sahelian country left about half a million people homeless and more than 80 dead.

Nearly 20 kilometers away from the capital city Niamey, the village Sangada Goro has become a little island, completely surrounded by floodwaters. The only way the UNICEF team could access the village was by boat. Mud-made houses have literally been washed away. Food crops have been destroyed. Grain banks have been demolished.

Nestled along the Niger River, Sarando Ganda usually produces abundantly fruit and vegetables to be sold on the markets in Niamey. This year, it won’t. The village may not even be able to feed its own children as the upcoming harvest has been threatened by the flooding.

“We lost all our crops,” says Sarando Ganda village chief Seyni Hamadou Sani. “There is nothing to eat here. It is very difficult for children. They are particularly exposed to diarrhea and malaria. In only one week, we had 53 cases of malaria.”

 As the rainy season has unfolded, many regions of the regions of Niger –especially communities along the river-- have been affected by a cholera outbreak, with 2.5 times more cases being reported than last year at the same period.

“The cholera emergency in Niger is adding additional burden to the on-going severe food and nutrition crisis in the Sahel,” said Guido Cornale, UNICEF Representative in Niger. “We must intensify our efforts to further prevent the propagation of this disease. (…) Rains and floods lead the disease to spread faster.”

Two weeks ago, the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Office (ECHO) made available €600,000 in support of UNICEF’s emergency response to the cholera outbreak in Niger.  With this European emergency funding, UNICEF and its partners are urgently providing immediate relief assistance to the flood victims, such as plastic sheets, cooking items and mosquito nets in Dosso and water purification tablets in Sarando Ganda. Last week, more than 6,500 families affected by the floods in Niamey received each some cash and cereals but also  life-saving items such as  mosquito nets, soaps, tarpaulins, blankets, cooking sets or mats.

The flooding struck Niger while the country was already facing this year an unprecedented conjunction of disasters ---nutrition crisis, influx of Malian refugees and cholera outbreaks. As dark grey clouds continue gathering in the threatening sky, the village of Sarando Ganda is likely to remain inundated until the rainy season ends. Aid agencies and the government are now working together to ensure as many children as possible can go back to school normally, as the academic year has started this week.

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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Video: The Sahel's Deepening Crisis and Its Humanitarian Consequences

David Gressly, Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel, discussed on 01/10/2012 in the NY International Peace Institute the current and future challenges facing the Sahel countries linked to chronic, structural food and nutrition insecurity, resulting in the need for a large-scale humanitarian response.

Watch David Gressly´s address at the IPI

Monday, October 1, 2012

Food Vouchers Help Feed Hungry in Chad

By Helen Blakesley,  Regional Information Officer in Catholic Relief Services (CRS)


In one of the most remote places on Earth, a woman bends down to hitch a sack of millet onto her back. Fatime is 65 years old. She’s at the market in Minekrate, a village in the Wadi Fira region of Eastern Chad.

She’s walked here today. The sun is unrelenting and the temperatures are in the 100s. Scrubby trees dot the sandy ground. The air is dry as donkeys nibble what they can find. Fatime’s husband died five years ago, after a long illness. She now has 9 children in her care. She’s here today to get them some food.

The harvests were bad last year because good rains didn’t come. The year before wasn’t great either. Some days Fatime and the children eat five and a half pounds of millet between them. They make porridge and bread from it. Some days it’s half that. Two pounds of cereal between ten people.

But today Fatime has brought to market the food vouchers that CRS has given her. It’s part of the US government-funded Food For Peace project that’s at work in her region and in neighboring Ouaddai. CRS works hand-in-hand with the Chadian Catholic charity SECADEV to reach around ten thousand of the most struggling households.

Fatime uses her vouchers to choose the food her family needs. It will more than double the amount of millet they have. She also takes some oil to cook with. She’s hoping rains this year will mean she can grow a few onions and tomatoes and some millet of her own.

Things are still not easy. It’s still not much to live off. But it’s better than before.

Fatime thanks God that she has the children around her and that she now has help with putting food on the table.

“My hope lies with my God, the Creator. May He keep safe those who help us.”

           CRS is helping around 60,000 of the poorest people in Eastern Chad through
                              its USAID funded Emergency Food for Peace project
                                                    Photo by Katie Price/CRS