Early reports suggest that as many as 6 million people in Niger and 2.9 million people in Mali live in vulnerable areas, where lack of rain, bad harvests, limited grazing land and increasing commodity costs are starting to hit the population.
With fears growing of a food crisis in the Sahel in 2012, and with a million children thought to be at risk of severe malnutrition, urgent assistance is needed now. Therefore, SOS Children has launched an emergency appeal and is expanding programmes in the region, putting in place preventative measures to help safeguard against malnutrition and food shortages.
Preventing a looming crisis
In the regions identified at risk by the early famine warning systems, nearly 4,000 children are being supported by SOS Children's Villages, whether in the communities through Family Strengthening Programmes (FSP) or in numerous Children's Villages.
To support the most vulnerable families in the region, SOS Children is:
- Providing families participating in Family Strengthening Programmes with monthly food packages comprising rice, oil, and milk
- Implementing awareness campaigns in Senegal, Mali and Burkina Faso to highlight the importance of nutrition (particularly during breast feeding and pregnancy)
- Providing access to clean water for communitites. For instance, the Children's Village aT Dafra, Burkina Faso offers clean water to the neighbourhood
- Treating and preventing child malnutrition by implementing all year round weighing sessions and providing specific life-saving treatment
- Working with local communities to set up special 'Health Committees' in Senegal and Mali which report to SOS Children regularly, identifying the neediest among them including children at risk of severe and acute malnutrition
- Investing in enhanced emergency communication for western sub-Saharan countries which provide rapid alerts and monitoring of the impending crisis.
- In Mali, an aid programme will be carried out in the communities of Sanankoroba, Kita and Socoura/Mopti which will benefit 300 families. Planned activities include the provision of food, livestock and agricultural equipment such as ploughs. The aim of the programme is to support the most vulnerable families with supplies and to train them in skills to strengthen their capabilities and resources in the long-term.
In just four months between April and August 2011, up to 100,000 people died in as a result of the Horn of Africa drought. More than half were children under five. Over 250,000 face starvation.
How you can help
We have been providing care in the Sahel area for years, providing support for families and children facing the gravest circumstances.
You can help children in the Sahel region by choosing to sponsor a child or SOS Children's Village in the region. Three SOS Children's Villages in the Sahel region currently have child sponsorships available. They are Sanankoroba and Mopti, in Mali; and Tahoua in Niger. If you would like to sponsor in one of these three villages, please click on the 'sponsor in West Africa' button and enter the name of the village into the 'special instructions' box:
Make a one-off donation so that we can improve the ongoing well-being of children left alone by the famine.