EU Sends $29M In Food, Medical Aid To Combat Increasing Food Insecurity In Africa’s Sahel Region

The European Union on Wednesday sent $29 million worth of food and medical aid to help “millions facing hunger” across the drought-stricken Sahel region of West Africa, Reuters reports. “Failed rains have left over 10 million people at risk in Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and other countries in the semi-arid belt stretching across the southern edge of the Sahara,” the news service writes. “Niger last month forecast that 3.3 million people, or 22 percent of its population, would face severe food shortages, with a further 3.8 million vulnerable to a lesser degree,” according to Reuters (John, 6/2).

The bulk of the $29 million aid, the EU’s second commitment to the Sahel region this year, will target malnourished children and pregnant and nursing women, the Associated Press reports, adding the majority of the aid will go to Niger and Chad.

“Aid agency Oxfam says more money is needed and that Niger has only received half of the €146 million [$176 million] it says it needs to cope with the drought and U.N. agencies in Chad have only got 20 per cent of the funds they require,” the news service writes (6/3).

The Guardian also writes of the increasing hunger in the Sahel region. According to the newspaper, the World Food Program (WFP) “plans to assist 3.6 million people in the coming months.” The agency predicts the hunger season will extend “to at least until the next harvest in September,” the newspaper writes. The piece also compares the current drought in Niger to the one in 2005, in which “tens of thousands of children needed treatment for acute malnutrition.” The piece also includes a comment by a spokesman from the WFP (Rice, 6/3).

In related news, IRIN reports on how “[s]tocks of millet and sorghum in northern Nigeria’s markets are dwindling as traders buy them up to export across the border to Niger, where some 10 million people face food insecurity.”

The article examines the impact the food shortages in Niger are having on Nigeria, as “thousands of Nigeriens from southern Niger have poured across the border to the five northern Nigerian states of Katsina, Yobe, Jigawa, Sokoto and Borno, in search of casual labour to raise money to buy grain.” The piece includes comments from several Nigeriens, temporarily in Nigeria in search of food, and Nigerians who express concern that exporting food to Niger will lead to food insecurity in Nigeria.

“We have 130,000 tons of grain in our strategic reserve … there is no cause for alarm,” Salisu Ahmed Ingawa, special assistant to the agriculture minister, said. “The export to Niger does not pose any threat to food availability in Nigeria and food prices have remained stable. … We are well-prepared for any contingency.” The piece also notes the issues of food security in northern Nigeria (6/3).

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