The Sahel crisis by the numbers: An inside look

April 11, 2012
The children of the Sahel are closer than you think. Nigeria is one of the eight countries in the Sahel region of Africa. The flying distance between Nigeria and New York City is 5,272 miles. We are not hundreds but thousands of miles away from the unraveling crisis threatening the survival of 1 million children in the Sahel!   I can feel the pain and the impossible choices that families thousands of miles away continue to face each passing day and the urgent assistance they need.  Colleagues and partners across country offices in the region diligently collate and share updates of the situation on the ground. We thank you for helping us sound the alarm but our work is far from done.  We need your support to continue to raise awareness for the crisis and to help ensure the survival of the 1 million children standing on the brink of death and disease as a result of the food and nutrition crisis. UNICEF offices across the world receive Situation Reports or as we say in internal speak SitReps describing in great detail the first-hand on-ground realities and needs. The SitReps are our information lifeline. These internal reports continue to be delivered to our inboxes and continue to warn us of the worsening situation and the need for urgent immediate aid to save 1 million children.  To really give you a sense of what’s happening on the ground I wanted to share a SitRep covering all the eight countries and the overall situation. Some highlights from the report included below. Click here to read the full version of a sitRep on the UNICEF Sahel nutrition crisis update. Scope of the crisis threatening the Sahel:
  • Over 10 million people facing food insecurity
  • Over 1 million children expected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition (SAM) in 2012
  • Food crisis exacerbated by and complicating further needs in health, water and sanitation, protection, as well as threatening rights to education
Magnitude of the nutrition situation:
  • In the eight countries affected, except Cameroon, nutrition situation is deemed "serious", with the prevalence of global acute malnutrition (GAM) equal to or exceeding 10 per cent
  • GAM prevalence in Chad and several regions of Niger and Mauritania has surpassed the emergency thresholdof 15%

    Click the image to view an infographic on the Sahel crisis.

  How UNICEF can save these childen: UNICEF is rolling out an integrated package of interventions derived from UNICEF's Core Commitments to Children in Humanitarian Action in order to address the crisis, with a first stage focused on addressing immediate needs and saving lives. UNICEF and partners will:
  • support the treatment of SAM for more than 1 million children
  • collaborate with WFP to treat moderate acute malnutrition (MAM).
In addition to combating acute malnutrition, the integrated approach also tackles the underlying and structural causes of malnutrition. Lack of resources limits response:
  • 90 surge staff must be deployed to the region to support scale-up of activities
  • 33 are already recruited and another 35 are currently being identified
Urgent funding is needed to ensure rapid recruitment of remaining 22 staff required.
  • $ 120 million requested by UNICEF for 2012 through the Humanitarian Action Update disseminated on 6 February
  • Only US$ 37.6 million (32 per cent) has been received to date
We are grateful for the contributions from its donors and needs sustained donor support to continue scaling-up its operations in the eight countries affected by the crisis. Help spread the word, get involved in our #sahelNow campaign.