16 million risk hunger in Sahel despite good harvest
DAKAR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Around 16 million people are at risk of going hungry across Africa’s Sahel belt next year due to conflicts and rapid population growth, even though the region expects good harvests and rainfall, a senior U.N. official said on Tuesday.
Violence in northern Nigeria, northern Mali and the Central African Republic combined with high fertility rates have fueled food shortages and high food prices across the savannah region. In Niger alone, the fertility rate is 7.6 children per mother.
Despite the need, a global downturn and the prominence of wars such as in Syria make it harder to raise donor funds for crises like the one in the Sahel, said Robert Piper of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
Latest OCHA figures show that only 58 percent of the required $1.7 billion for 2013 has been met by donor funding, Piper told Reuters before the launch of a funding appeal.
Food insecurity in the Sahel next year will increase by 40 percent compared to this year when 11.3 million people had inadequate food and required around $1.7 billion in donor assistance, according to preliminary OCHA data.
“These are the first indicators that the Sahel crisis is getting away from us,” said Robert Piper, OCHA coordinator for the Sahel.”The numbers are getting bigger even though the harvest this year has been fractionally better than the average over the last five years.”
“Rapid population growth has meant the same amount of food has to feed more mouths. So despite a small increase in overall food production, on average there is 13 percent less food per person,” Piper explained.
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