2012 Food and Nutrition Crisis in the Sahel

© PAM-WFP/Daouda Guirou

Based on United Nations estimates, 18.7 million people in the Sahel region in West Africa were affected by a food and nutrition crisis in 2012 due to drought, sporadic rains, poor harvests, soaring food prices and widespread displacement.

As a result, more than 1 million children under the age of five were at risk of dying from severe acute malnutrition.

The humanitarian situation in the region was made worse by insecurity and conflict, causing many people to leave their homes and belongings behind and flee the violence. This also limited humanitarian access to those in need and made aid delivery more difficult.

The countries most affected by the 2012 Sahel crisis were Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia and northern Cameroon.

Region affected by the crisis

Region affected by the crisis

Canada was one of the key providers of humanitarian assistance in the Sahel region, and one of the first to respond to the crisis. The global response helped avert an even larger-scale disaster. The "lean season" (when food from the last harvest has run out) has now ended. It appears that the 2012-2013 harvest will return to normal levels but the region remains vulnerable to chronic food insecurity and undernutrition.

Find out more about what Canada's partners are doing in the Sahel. Often operating in difficult environments, they provided emergency food assistance, essential non-food items, such as hygiene kits and tarpaulins, support for the treatment of acute malnutrition, water, basic sanitation services, health care, and protection.

For example, with Canada's support, the World Food Programme (WFP) provided food and nutrition assistance to 6 million people in the region, and UNICEF and its partners treated some 850,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition. In parallel to those lifesaving interventions, humanitarian organizations supported livelihoods activities to reduce the vulnerability of the people affected by the crisis.

So far:

As of December 2012, Canada has contributed a total of $57.5 million to help people affected by this crisis, including the $10 million announced on August 7, 2012. This humanitarian funding is in addition to Canada's long-term development programming in the region, which supports Africa's efforts to improve agricultural productivity and reduce chronic food insecurity.