Sahel situation still precarious, says International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent

Published: 10 February 2006

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies today announced it would extend its appeal for the Sahel operation that covers Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania and Niger for a further six months.

The International Federation is increasing the budget to 30.6 million Swiss francs (US$ 23.8 million/euro 19,7 million). The initial amount requested was 18.2 million Swiss francs (USD 14.2 million/euro 11.6 million).
International Federation Sahel Operation Manager Steven Loyst said the situation was still worrisome.

“We are gravely concerned about the longer-term impact of the crisis because many peoples’ livelihoods have been eroded in recent months. If families have sold their assets to buy food, which many have, their already fragile existence is still under threat.

“We are worried that it will lead to an earlier than usual onset of the lean season, possibly as early as February in some areas,” Mr Loyst said.

To address the structural causes of hunger, the International Federation is integrating health, water and sanitation, and livelihoods programmes into food aid. The International Federation is also integrating some programmes such as supplementary food for children into Niger community and regional health services to ensure their sustainability.

The extended appeal gives the International Federation time to implement new activities and plan for more longer-term programmes that will address the root problems of hunger. The International Federation is monitoring food security, pre-positioning food stocks and training Niger Red Cross volunteers and staff to mount an emergency response should another food crisis emerge in the coming months.

Since July 2005, when the International Federation launched its initial emergency appeal, the operation has helped more than 630,000 people, mainly through supplementary feeding activities for malnourished children, food aid for families and through a cash distribution in the isolated eastern part of Niger.

Other emergency programmes have included water and sanitation, health care and distributions of seeds. The number of people helped has turned out to be higher than the initially expected number of 536,000.

The full extended appeal for Sahel can be found on: http://www.ifrc.org/cgi/pdf_appeals.pl?05/05EA01504.pdf

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