DAKAR, Senegal (AP) – West Africa is facing its worst food crisis in a decade amid rising conflict, droughts, floods and the war in Ukraine, nearly a dozen international organizations said in a report Tuesday.
The number of West Africans in need of emergency food aid has nearly increased from 7 million in 2015 to 27 million this year in countries like Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, Mali and Nigeria, where thousands have also been displaced due to rising Islamist extremist violence quadrupled report said.
That number could rise to 38 million by June unless action is taken soon to help people in the Sahel, the sprawling region south of the Sahara, the groups have warned.
“Grain production in some parts of the Sahel fell by about a third compared to last year. The family’s food supplies are running low. Drought, flooding, conflict and the economic impact of COVID-19 have forced millions of people off their land and on the abyss,” said Assalama Dawalack Sidi, Oxfam’s regional director for West and Central Africa.
Children are suffering badly, according to estimates by the United Nations, around 6.3 million children under the age of 5 will be acutely malnourished this year. Young girls will also feel the brunt of the problem, being forced into early marriages or facing gender-based violence as food becomes scarcer, the 11 international organizations said.
Drought and poor rainfall patterns have reduced food sources in many communities in the central Sahel, the report said. Food prices in West Africa have risen by up to 30%, it said.
According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, prices have risen around the world as trade has been disrupted by the war in Ukraine. Wheat availability is also severely affected in six West African countries that import at least 30% of their wheat from Russia and Ukraine, it said.
The crisis in Europe is also leading to cuts in aid to Africa, and $4 billion is needed to adequately support the continent, the report said.
“Ukraine is receiving the right level of solidarity and care, this level should be the standard everywhere else for responding to all crises,” said Moumouni Kinda, Director General of ALIMA.
The call comes ahead of a Sahel conference on Wednesday, which Oxfam’s Sidi said is “a unique opportunity to mobilize the emergency food and nutrition aid needed and to prove that the lives of people in Africa are worth no less than those in Europe”.