Sahel operation: Red Cross Red Crescent to expand its emergency response

Published: 16 August 2005

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is expanding its emergency operation to help some 530,000 vulnerable people (more than 76,000 families) in the Sahel region of Africa over the next 6 months. The extended emergency operation will include the establishment of more supplementary feeding centres to reach a growing number of people in need of food assistance in Niger, Mali, Mauritania and Burkina Faso.

The expanded operation will be financed through the existing emergency appeal, launched by the International Federation on 22 July, for some 18 million Swiss francs (euro 11.5 million/US$ 14 million). To date, the appeal is 11.5% covered, which is enough to cover only immediate requirements.

“We are still very much in the emergency phase. As word spreads about the relief operation underway, demand grows. Our work, in partnership with organizations such as the World Food Programme, which is supplying most of the food, will continue to increase in pace and scale.” said Langdon Greenhalgh, regional disaster management co-ordinator for the Federation operation in Niger.

In Niger alone, recent nutritional surveys reveal that some 20% of children under five suffer from moderate malnutrition. Last week, more than 5,000 children under five years old were treated in the supplementary feeding centers established by the Niger Red Cross in four of the most affected areas (Maradi, Tahoa, Zinder and Agadez).
Niger Red Cross volunteers are working, with support from Red Cross and Red Crescent international delegates, to provide a target group of 24,500 children under five in Niger with supplementary feeding and health services, including vaccinations.

“We are providing additional food for families so as to protect the child’s ration. Severe cases of malnutrition are transferred to specialized centers for further treatment,” says Jill MacLaren, Federation health delegate for Niger.

Per Allan Olsson, of the Federation’s Africa department, explains that emergency assistance is not enough to address chronic food insecurity. “A more sustainable approach is needed, involving longer-term health services, water management, cereal banks to make sure people are better prepared for the next lean season, the replacement of lost livestock and extra training for volunteers on early detection of malnourishment.”

In Mali, the Red Cross has begun fodder distributions and vaccinations to assist farmers and their livestock. Food distributions are about to begin for some 11,200 people in and around Tombouctou.
In Mauritania, nearly 400 cases of cholera have been treated in Red Crescent centres and the Federation will be sending in additional medicines and medical supplies this week. An assessment has begun to determine the extent and gravity of the health situation.

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