Sahel's high-level donor meeting falls short of meeting the needs of the hungry

On April 6, 20202, the EU, the Sahel and West Africa Club, and the Global Network Against Food Crises convened a high-level meeting in response to the food and nutrition crises in the Sahel and Lake Chad regions, at which several donors pledged additional funds to help prevent famine in the Sahel region of Africa.

Mervyn Joullie, Mercy Corps Deputy Regional Director for Africa, says

"We welcome the European Union playing a vital role in co-hosting a high-level donor meeting on the food and nutrition crisis in the Sahel and Lake Chad conference yesterday and announcing an additional €67 million for the response. We also welcome new pledges from other donor governments, notably the U.S Government, which has pledged $311 million. However, many pledges were simply confirmations of existing funding commitments, and the overall outcome is disappointing in light of the region's urgent and growing needs.

"These pledges are just a start. Donors must immediately close the $4 billion funding gap in the UN appeal for West Africa to save lives in the coming months. At the same time, donors should double efforts to address the underlying drivers of food security crises in the region, including conflict and climate change. We know from experience that investing in resilience now will be less expensive than paying for even further increased humanitarian assistance down the line. 

"West Africa is experiencing its worst food crisis in a decade, with 27 million people going hungry and child malnutrition rising at an alarming rate. This figure could increase to 38 million this June - a new historical level - unless urgent action is taken. Violence and conflict have never been more prevalent in the Sahel, exacerbating the region's food insecurity and adding enormous stress to the region's food insecurity. The conflict in Ukraine is also exacerbating the hunger crisis, putting upward pressure on the prices of staple foods such as wheat, sunflower oil, sugar, and fertilizers used in agriculture. 

"As recent conferences on Afghanistan and Yemen have demonstrated, aid budgets are also being put under ever-increasing pressure by the crisis in Ukraine. It is critical that new funding for Ukraine does not come at the expense of responding to the Sahel and other global humanitarian crises. The international community must not turn its back on people across the Sahel who desperately need help."

Mercy Corps has been working in the Sahel region since 2005, implementing both humanitarian and development programs in Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Northeast Nigeria.