Rome, 17 February 2022 (TDI): Despite the fact that the Sahel area is overlooking a “horrific food crisis,” the UN’s Emergency Food Assistance Head warned on Wednesday that the number of people on the edge of hunger increased “nearly tenfold” in the previous three years, with “displacements of almost 400 %.”

The Sahel, which runs almost the continuous length of the continent south of the Sahara Desert, is noting some of the driest weather in recent years.

“We are witnessing the emergence of a legitimate disaster,” WFP Executive Director, David Beasley stated during a visit to the organization’s activities in Niger and Chad.

Inflation, poverty, and insecurity endure all a part of the current economic climate. In just three years, the number of people at risk of starvation in the Sahelian nations of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger has risen from 3.6 million to 10.5 million.

Africa's Sahel area undergoing "catastrophic food catastrophe."
Africa’s Sahel area undergoing “catastrophic food catastrophe.”

Poverty brought by COVID, astronomical food costs, and other issues have put those countries and others in the region on a collision path with any previous disaster.

“I’ve spoken with families that have experienced more than any of us can fathom,” Beasley continued. They have been displaced from their homes by extremist organizations, starved to death by drought, and driven to despair by COVID’s economic impact.

While the need is overwhelming, resources to maintain the vulnerable are at an all-time low, forcing the World Food Programme to produce the tough decision to take from the hungry in order to feed the starving.

The World Food Programme is slashing the food supply in Niger due to funding restrictions. FAO needs $470 million to maintain operations in the Sahel for six months.

WFP collaborated with humanitarian partners in five countries last year to continue providing lifesaving assistance to 9.3 million people despite the threat.

Africa's Sahel area undergoing "catastrophic food catastrophe."
Africa’s Sahel area undergoing “catastrophic food catastrophe.”
Assisting people in their journeys of the transformation

Additionally, WFP has established initiatives to support families thrive. It has worked with communities to transform 270,000 acres of desert Sahel lands into agricultural and pastoral grounds during the last three years, therefore improving the lives of nearly 2.5 million people.

The communities which have benefitted from resilience-building projects in that region have been enabled to grow enough food to feed themselves while diversifying their output and revenue in the face of an unprecedented food crisis.

Cross-border conflict

Simultaneously, Benin is concerned that unrest may spread from neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger. Additionally, Beasley cautioned that despite the fact that the government-funded school feeding program —co-implemented by the World Food Program— provides nutritious meals to 700,000 students and has been instrumental in creating jobs and strengthening the local economy, the situation continues to be dire.

“We have run out of funds, and these people have lost hope,” he stated.