As the Sahel region experiences its worst food and nutrition crisis in five years and continued insecurity, the European Commission has announced Tuesday a humanitarian aid package worth €191.3 million. Over one third of the amount, i.e. €70,6 to be shared between Mali and Nigeria.
“There is no time to waste with many affected by a worsening food security crisis in the Sahel. Our EU aid will throw a lifeline to the most vulnerable. Our new support aims to reach more than 1.1 million people in need of emergency food assistance while supporting treatment to over 650,000 severely malnourished children,” said Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides.
The assistance announced Tuesday (July 10) will go to eight countries in the region: Burkina Faso (€11.1 million), Chad (€40.2 million), Cameroon (€13.9 million), Mali (€35.3 million), Mauritania (€11.4 million), Niger (€32.2 million), Nigeria (€35.3 million), and Senegal (€1 million). In addition, regional funds amounting to €10.8 million will also be allocated. EU funding will also support disaster risk reduction initiatives that can help populations prepare better for natural hazards, the Commission said in a press release.
International aid agencies and NGOs have warned lately of a disaster in the Sahel, and called for urgent aid to one of the poorest regions in the world, a region stricken by drought, conflict and poverty. Poor rainfall this year was the most dramatic since 2012 resulting in water, crop and pasture shortages and livestock losses.
Nearly 11.8 million people across the eight countries of the region need immediate food assistance to avoid facing acute hunger, women and children being hit the hardest.
Up to 4 million children are at risk of severe acute malnutrition and need lifesaving treatment, a 20% increase compared to last year. The situation is deteriorating fast as thousands of families exhausted their food reserves four months earlier than usual and the next harvest is only in September.
The European Union is one of the largest contributors of humanitarian aid to the Sahel. In 2017, the EU allocated €240 million in humanitarian assistance to the people living in the region, covering essential food assistance to vulnerable households, treatment for severely malnourished children, as well as health assistance, water and sanitation, shelter and protection.
The EU, together with its Member States, is the biggest provider of development assistance to the region with €8 billion over 2014-2020.
Since 2015, the European Commission and the United Kingdom have implemented a joint program called ‘Providing Humanitarian Assistance to Sahel Emergencies’ (PHASE). In 2017, the contribution of the Department for International Development (DFID) UK Aid was close to €50 million.