January 13 2012

Famine warning for West Africa

13/01/2011 - Early warning systems indicate famine is imminent in parts of Mali, northern Burkina Faso and parts of Senegal. Insufficient and erratic rainfall has led to a poor harvest as food reserves reach critically low levels across the Sahel. SOS Children's Villages is there.

Emmanuelle Lavenac
40% food inflation in Sahel - Photo: E. Lavenac

The recent conflict in Côte d'Ivoire led to reduced trade which has also contributed to food inflation that has risen by up to 40 per cent. Those with resources are stockpiling supplies of food following the news that that food aid will be required within a month to prevent the deaths of children.

 In Burkina Faso alone, malnutrition threatened 144,000 children in 2011 – a year that was considered relatively normal in terms of food production. Half those affected were under 5-years-old.

In the regions that are now under threat of famine in Senegal, Mali and Burkina Faso, SOS Children's Villages currently provides support to 4,000 children through family strengthening programmes across nine specific communities. A 30 per cent increase during 2012 will provide an additional 700 children with a better start in life.

Emmanuelle Lavenac
Children benefiting  from SOS support programme in Mali - Photo: E. Lavenac 
Many of the children attend SOS Hermann Gmeiner Schools where they are guaranteed to be fed. As some must undertake a one hour walk to and from school, good nutrition is vitally important in a region where access to rice, vegetable oil and a protein source can mean the difference between life and death.