• Friday, June 14, 2024
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WFP requires US$ 794m in six months to fight hunger, malnutrition in West Africa

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has disclosed that it would need an average of US$ 794 million to ensure adequate response to the emergency needs across the five Sahel countries of West Africa over the next six months (July- December 2023).

The WFP recently kicked off a large-scale emergency food and nutrition assistance operation in the Sahel. However, the funding crunch currently faced by the WFP means over half of the 11.6 million initially targeted will be left without any assistance, thereby leaving millions stranded without aid as the lean season sets in and hunger starts to peak.

According to the WFP, Mali and Chad will be hit the hardest, with 800,000 people at risk of resorting to desperate measures to cope, including engaging in survival sex, early marriage, or joining non-state armed groups.

“We’re in a tragic situation. During this year’s lean season, millions of families will lack sufficient food reserves to sustain them until the next harvests in September and many will receive little to no assistance to tide them through the gruelling months ahead. We must take immediate action to prevent a massive slide into catastrophic hunger,” Margot Vandervelden, regional director ad interim, for Western Africa.

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WFP’s lean season response works to boost national governments’ efforts in tackling hunger as they grapple with the combined effects of conflict, the climate crisis, and soaring costs of food and fuel.

According to Vandervelden, WFP had initially targeted 11.6 million women, men and children out of 19.2 million people in humanitarian need – in Burkina Faso, Chad, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and north-eastern Nigeria from June to September 2023.

But funding constraints have forced WFP to roll out assistance for just 6.2 million of the most vulnerable people – with a focus on refugees, newly displaced people, malnourished children under five, pregnant women and breastfeeding women and girls.

“We need a twin-track approach to stop hunger in the Sahel – we must address acute hunger through humanitarian assistance, while tackling the structural causes of food insecurity by increasing investments in resilient food systems and expanding government social protection programmes,” Vandervelden stated.

According to the WFP, food insecurity has reached a 10-year high in West and Central Africa, affecting 47.2 million people during the June-August lean season, including 45,000 people in Burkina Faso and Mali facing catastrophic hunger according to the March Cadre Harmonisé analysis.

The WFP stated further that malnutrition rates have also surged, with 16.5 million children under five set to be acutely malnourished this year; an 83 percent rise from the 2015-2022 average. However, the WFP is also implementing a social protection programme in Chad, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Mauritania in partnership with UNICEF.

The partnership contributes to strengthening national systems, supporting millions of people through cash-based transfers and complementary services. It also contributes to strengthening national capacity to anticipate and respond to climatic and other shocks that lead to humanitarian need.