Save the Children is today, 12 June 2012, launching a global appeal to tackle the worsening food crisis in West Africa, where more than 18 million people are facing hunger.
The organisation has already scaled up its emergency operations in the Sahel region, but says they have a funding shortfall of almost £26 million.
Save the Children hopes to close the funding gap and raise extra funds on top to bring help to the 1.5 million people – including almost a million children – most urgently in need.
The money will go towards life-saving interventions, including nutrition, health and securing access to food for the most vulnerable families in Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali and Mauritania.
“The situation in the Sahel is already appalling. In countries like Niger, families are struggling to survive on next to nothing, and children are paying the price. Our analysis shows how much worse it will get without additional support. The time to act is now. We are asking donors not to wait any longer. Any further delays are sure to cost additional lives of children whose deaths we know how to prevent – and can prevent, if we have the means,” said Justin Forsyth, the Chief Executive of Save the Children.
An announcement by the Department for International Development that it was donating £10 million to the West Africa food crisis has given an immediate boost to the campaign.
Need to act - before it's too late
Justin Forsyth added: “We welcome the UK government's move. Other donors now need to urgently act too. We hope that this leadership will encourage people to do more before it's too late."
Save the Children says there are alarming gaps in the food available in the Sahel, making it impossible for the poorest children and families to survive the year without urgent help.
In the past month, families in the some of the hardest hit areas have been struggling to live off less than half the food they need. With the lean season now starting, the charity warns the worst is yet to come.
Fears of major emergency
“For months now, families have been telling us they have next to nothing to eat. In Niger, mothers have little or no food to feed their children. Our analysis now shows just how bad the situation has become, and confirms our worst fears: a major emergency is now upon us,” continued Mr Forsyth.
Compiled with government, UN and other aid agency partners, Save the Children’s analysis shows that in parts of Mauritania, the poorest households are missing an estimated 80% of their basic needs for the months of June and July – and have already faced a deficit since January.
Support needed immediately
In one area of central Mali, the very poorest families have less than 40% of the food they need to survive from June to September.
As of this month, in Burkina Faso, the poorest families will only have 30% of what they need for the next four months – unless they get help immediately.
Save the Children experts warn that unless families get that help they will be forced to take drastic measures to survive, selling their remaining assets to buy whatever food they can until they have nothing left to sell.