Funding crunch leaves millions trapped


World Food Programme in Mali

from AMADOU NDIAYE in Dakar, Senegal
Senegal Bureau
DAKAR, (CAJ News) – A FUNDING crisis faced by the World Food Programme (WFP) has left millions stranded without aid as hunger grips Central and West Africa.

This funding crunch means WFP will be able to assist just over half of the $11,6 million initially targeted in a large-scale emergency food and nutrition assistance operation launched in the Sahel in June.

Mali and Chad will be hit the hardest, with 800 000 people at risk of resorting to desperate measures to cope, including engaging in survival sex, early marriage or joining non-state armed groups.

WFP had initially targeted vulnerable populations in Burkina Faso, Chad, Central African Republic (CAR), Cameroon, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and north-eastern Nigeria from June to September 2023.

However, funding constraints have forced WFP to roll out assistance for 6,2 million of the most vulnerable people – with a focus on refugees, newly displaced people, malnourished children under five, pregnant women and breastfeeding women and girls.

“We’re in a tragic situation,” lamented Margot Vandervelden, Regional Director ad interim, for Western Africa.

Speaking from Dakar, the envoy noted that during this year’s lean season, millions of families will lack sufficient food reserves to sustain them until the next harvests in September.

Many will receive little to no assistance to tide them through the gruelling months ahead.

“We must take immediate action to prevent a massive slide into catastrophic hunger,” said Vandervelden.

“We need a twin-track approach to stop hunger in the Sahel,” the envoy added.

“We must address acute hunger through humanitarian assistance, while tackling the structural causes of food insecurity by increasing investments in resilient food systems and expanding government social protection programmes.”
Conflict remains a key driver of hunger in the region, leading to forced population displacements.

Conflict is also spreading across the region and into coastal countries risking a spread of instability into new and previously stable areas.

This year, the number of people fleeing violence in the Central Sahel and seeking refuge in four Gulf of Guinea countries has nearly quadrupled, rising from 30 000 in January to 110 000 people in June.

– CAJ News



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