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Emergency Relief: Sahel Region

UNICEF's Work: Sahel

More than 850,000 children receive lifesaving treatment, the largest humanitarian effort of its kind ever in the Sahel region.

In late 2011, UNICEF early warning systems predicted that poor rains and failed harvests would create a food and nutrition crisis in West and Central Africa's Sahel region, jeopardizing the lives of more than one million children in nine countries—Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal.

Working Against Time to Save Children's Lives

Of particular concern during the Sahel crisis was the 2012 "lean season," the period just before the next harvest when food would be especially scarce. UNICEF appealed for funding and rapidly prepared a comprehensive response plan that included therapeutic food, the prevention and treatment of malaria, immunization, and adequate sanitation. Swift donor response allowed UNICEF and its partners to jump into action and increase the number of nutrition centers by over 50%, provision them with supplies and equipment, and set up mobile clinics to service isolated areas. In all, it was the most extensive intervention ever seen in the Sahel.

Sahel Graphic 450

To view larger infographic click on graphic.

A Catastrophe Averted, Help Still Needed

By year's end, 850,000 children were projected to have received treatment for severe acute malnutrition. Millions were immunized against life-threatening diseases, and 7.3 million families received insecticide-treated bed nets to prevent malaria. Steps were also taken to improve governments' abilities to monitor malnutrition and to make families more resilient in the face of similar shocks.

Still, thousands of children have yet to be reached with treatment. The situation in Mali has been complicated by continued civil conflict. And while rains are producing better crops, it can take two years for families to recover from the loss of animals and income. The children of the Sahel still urgently need your help.

UNICEF's Emergency Relief Efforts in Sahel

June 3, 2013

Janet Jackson Lifts Her Voice to Help Kids in West and Central Africa

Janet Jackson, GRAMMY® Award-winning and Oscar® nominated artist, entertainer and actor is lending her talent and powerful voice to support UNICEF in providing humanitarian assistance in the Sahel region of West and Central Africa, where 1.4 million children are at risk of severe malnutrition, a potentially deadly condition if left untreated. "We are all facing a silent emergency. So many children are at risk of losing their lives in the Sahel region of Africa because they don’t have food to eat," said Jackson.

May 29, 2013

The European Commission and UNICEF Aim to Prevent Mass Child Death in the Sahel

The European Commission and UNICEF are again combining their efforts to combat severe malnutrition in the Sahel region of West and Central Africa. The aim is to provide life-saving medical treatment and ready to use therapeutic food rations for an estimated 437,000 severely malnourished children under the age of five in seven Sahel countries.

April 19, 2013

In Chad, New Health Centers Tackle Nutrition Crisis

Chad experiences chronic drought among its harsh climatic conditions, and nearly 20 percent of the country’s children die before their fifth birthdays.


Map of the Sahel region in Africa


Support UNICEF's Disaster Relief Efforts in Sahel