Early Warning Systems Helping Aid Agencies Respond To Potential ‘Food Crisis’ In Sahel Region

Africa’s Sahel region is facing a potential “food crisis,” “[b]ut the good news is that the world’s Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET) is giving West African countries and donor nations a period of time to prepare, says the aid group Oxfam,” the Christian Science Monitor reports. “Early reports suggest that as many as six million people in Niger and 2.9 million people in Mali live in vulnerable areas, where low rainfall, falling groundwater levels, poor harvests, lack of pastureland, rising food prices, and a drop in remittances from family members living abroad are starting to take their toll,” according to the newspaper.

But Oxfam and other aid agencies can “plan ahead” because of FEWS NET, which is funded and operated by USAID in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey and several U.N. relief agencies, the newspaper notes. “And on the U.N. ground assessment side, there is the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit of the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization. Taken together, these two systems are getting better and better at predicting food crises, and giving aid groups the time to respond,” the Christian Science Monitor writes (Baldauf, 12/12).