€123.5 million for the Sahel region of sub-Saharan Africa from EU funds

The European Commission is scaling up its humanitarian assistance in order to help out the Sahel region of sub-Saharan Africa. Combined with at least €150 million of development assistance, the €123.5 million brings the Commission's funding for the Sahel so far this year to almost €275 million. But it's estimated that €700 million are required to cover the next 6 months.

The European Commission increased the humanitarian assistance to €123.5 million for the Sahel region of sub-Saharan Africa. According to the Commission, the decision has been made amid increasing recognition by the international community of the urgent need to contain the looming food crisis. In the Sahel region of sub-Saharan Africa there are 12 million people are at risk of hunger.

Five Sahel countries (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger) have declared an emergency and called for international assistance. Kristalina Georgieva, the Humanitarian Aid Commissioner highlighted that in the Sahel the so-called "hungry season" normally runs from May/June to September. This year, because of failed harvests in 2011, it is expected to start within weeks. Ms Georgieva already announced in January the Commission's commitment with the Sahel region.

The Commission's main objectives with the funding are fighting the blight of malnutrition among children and pregnant and nursing women. With these objectives and with Commission funding, UNICEF is bringing in specialised therapeutic feeding products to treat severe malnutrition when rates peak later in the year. The World Food Programme has already begun to purchase food for the most vulnerable populations. Furthermore, additional funding is going towards cash transfers where those most in need are able to buy food for themselves. This will encourage local traders to continue bringing food to markets, as they can be confident there will be buyers for their produce.