Lane Hartill 202.640.6608 (O), 202.294.9700 (M)
WESTPORT, Conn. (June 12, 2012) – Save the Children released new figures today that show the food crisis in West Africa has hit a tipping point: If aid isn't delivered to the poorest families in the most vulnerable zones in Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, families may not be able to survive the lean season.
In pockets of Mauritania, some people are missing an estimated 80 percent of their basic food needs for the months of June and July. Since January, many have been facing a food deficit.
Already more than 64,000 Malians have fled to neighboring Mauritania to escape fighting and increased food prices in the restive north of their country. Last month, between 600 and 1,000 Malian refugees were arriving daily at the M'bera refugee camp in southeast Mauritania.
Across the Sahel, the situation is grave:
- In Gorgolwilaya, Mauritania, the poorest families are missing 80 percent of their basic food needs for the months of June and July. Between July and September, Save the Children estimates the families will not have 65 percent of what they need to survive.
- In the Ioba Province of Burkina Faso, Save the Children's analysis shows that the poorest families will be unable to meet 75 percent of their food needs in August.
- In Bandiagara Cercle in the Mopti region of Mali, the poorest families have less than 40 percent of the food they need to survive from June to September; they have already been facing a deficit since the beginning of April.
In response to the crisis, Save the Children has scaled up its emergency operations in the Sahel, but the organization has a funding shortfall of almost $40 million. They hope to close that gap and raise extra funds to bring help to 1.5 million people – including almost a million children – most urgently in need.
"The situation in the Sahel is desperate," says Carolyn Miles, President and CEO of Save the Children. "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. We know how to prevent those deaths if we have the means."
With the lean season now starting, Save the Children warns the worst is yet to come.
"For months now, families have been telling us they have next to nothing to eat. In Mali, we know that some families are eating only once a day. Our analysis shows just how bad the situation has become and confirms our worst fears: a major emergency is now upon us," added Miles. "Last year's crisis in the Horn of Africa taught us you can't wait. People need our help now."
Readers may visit www.savethechildren.org/west-africa-hunger-1 to support our efforts in West Africa.
Save the Children is the leading, independent organization that creates lasting change for children in need in the United States and around the world. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.