IFRC Secretary General calls for greater investment in building resilience in the Sahel

تم النشر: 11 نوفمبر 2015

Dakar, 10 November 2015: Concerned with the recurring cycle of food insecurity in the Sahel, Mr Elhadj As Sy, Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is calling for more action and investment to build the resilience of vulnerable communities across the region.

Speaking at a meeting of Red Cross and Red Crescent leaders from across West and Central Africa, Mr Sy said that a proactive approach to tackling the humanitarian needs of communities in the region would save lives and protect livelihoods.

“People across the Sahel continue to face overwhelming challenges related to conflicts and natural hazards. Many communities never fully recovered from the 2012 food crisis and were therefore simply unable to withstand the impact of the 2014 crop deficit,” said Mr Sy.

An estimated 20 million people across the Sahel currently face food insecurity as a result of erratic weather, failed crops, volatile food prices, and violence. In Mauritania, for example, nearly 14 per cent of children under five are severely malnourished, while 28 per cent are acutely malnourished – figures well above the emergency threshold.

Above average rainfall in 2015 has led to predictions of above average harvests. However, low grade food insecurity persists across the region with heightened levels reported in northeast Nigeria and southern Niger where communities are also affected by conflict and displacement. The situation is expected to worsen in Mali and Chad in the first quarter of 2016[1].

“Even if the rainy season appears to be good in some parts of the Sahel this year, we must remain vigilant and dedicated to helping people climb out of this cycle of dependency on humanitarian aid,” said Mr Sy. “This region is characterized by a recurrent drought-flood cycle. We must work together to find long-term sustainable solutions that are owned by the communities themselves; solutions that focus on interventions including water resource management, support for small-scale farmers and women and girls.”

A new Red Cross Red Crescent initiative, the One Billion Coalition for Resilience aims to scale-up community and civic action to build resilience. “We will work together with partners, civil society and, most importantly, communities themselves to build capacity to resist chocks, reduce risk and vulnerabilities and bring positive change,” said Mr Sy.

The One Billion Coalition for Resilience aims to engage at least one billion people by 2025 to take active steps towards strengthening their resilience. It will be officially launched at the 32nd International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in Geneva, Switzerland this December.

To assist families in the Sahel who are currently struggling to secure food, the IFRC has launched three emergency operations across Gambia, Mauritania, and Senegal. Totaling 5.1 million Swiss francs, the operations aim to reach 64,000 of the most vulnerable people with immediate life-saving aid, and support 108,000 people to face the next seasonal challenges with renewed strength and resources.

For further information, please contact: 

In Dakar:

  • Moustapha Diallo, Senior communications officer, IFRC

Mobile: +221 77 450 10 04 +221 77 450 10 04, E-mail: moustapha.diallo@ifrc.org

In Addis Ababa:

  • Katherine Mueller, Communications manager, IFRC Africa

Mobile: +251 930 033 413, E-mail: katherine.mueller@ifrc.org

In Geneva:

  • Benoit Carpentier, Team leader, public communications, IFRC
    Mobile: +41 79 213 24 13 +41 79 213 24 13+41 79 213 24 13 41 79 213 24 13, Email: benoit.carpentier@ifrc.org

[1] FEWSNET West Africa Food Security Outlook Update, October 2015: http://www.fews.net/west-africa