London, 16 May 2022 (TDI): In Africa’s Central Sahel, about four million children under the age of five are at risk of starvation. According to Save the Children, the region will face one of the world’s fastest-growing hunger crises in the next few weeks.

A difficult period between harvesting and planting is expected in Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso until September. Climate change, violence, and a flow of poverty as a result of the pandemic, are all contributing factors.

This has threatened crucial food supplies, pushing needy households to reduce their meals even further. West Africa is experiencing the biggest food shortage in a decade. 27 million people are unsure where they will get their next meal.

This represents a nearly 285% increase from seven million in 2015. An additional 11 million people could face starvation by June 2022. This year, 38 million individuals will be in need of emergency food assistance.

The food situation has been worsened by economic shocks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and strong conflicts in the Central Sahel region. Drought and agricultural neglect as a result of conflict-related movements are adding to the situation.

Many families in Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso are currently facing severe situations. They are unable to feed their children sufficient, nutritious meals. A third of children under the age of five are now suffering from serious hunger. This was only in the last year.

The conflict in Ukraine threatens to worsen the Central Sahelian food crisis. Even more so, with the global food costs expected to rise by as much as 20%. The effects of this food crisis may risk an entire region’s future.

Central Sahel starvation crisis

Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger, among other countries in West and Central Africa, account for 20% of all slowing down cases worldwide. Children will suffer serious and long-term costs.

Philippe Adapoe, Regional Director of Save the Children West and Central Africa Regional Office, said:

“This difficult upcoming season between planting and harvesting is an added pressure for the 38 million in the region who will be affected by food insecurity as early as June.

With more than one in three children at risk of starvation, the situation has never been more critical. Some of these children may not survive.

A large proportion of them may grow up with irreversible consequences including stunted growth, reduced learning capacity, or poor health throughout their lives.

We need to ensure that every child, wherever they are, has enough quality food to eat all year round. The time to act is now or we will all have failed, and this crisis will threaten to set these countries back by decades in efforts to reduce child mortality.”

With the world’s attention focused on Ukraine, there are fears that international assistance for other problems will be diverted to the European crisis. Many donors have already stated their intention to reduce their contributions to Africa.

On April 25, the United Nations reiterated its request for $2.25 billion in humanitarian aid for Ukraine. So far, at least 47% of the project has been funded.

For instance, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger’s humanitarian response plans for this year show a combined target of $1.82 billion, with less than 10% financed.

Save the Children is urging foreign donors to give food aid to children and families in the Central Sahel region as soon as possible. To prevent and treat malnutrition, they must improve health and nutrition treatments.

Communities may become more resilient, they must develop sustainable livelihood activities. Save the Children in West and Central Africa helped over 13 million people directly in 2021.

Through health, nutrition, food security and livelihoods, education, and water and sanitation, 8.5 million children were reached.