As countries in the Sahel continue to suffer from armed conflicts, climate change, and a food and nutrition crisis, the EU is providing €152.05 million to bring relief to people in need in the region. Combined with last year’s funding, humanitarian assistance to the Sahel has been supported with over €423 million in EU aid, making the EU a leading donor in the region.
Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis management, said, “The EU’s vital work in the Sahel continues to help the most vulnerable, in one of the poorest and most fragile regions in the world, where humanitarian needs are worryingly on the rise. Our new aid package will provide food assistance, emergency health care, clean water, shelter, protection, and education for children. To ensure aid saves lives, it is essential that humanitarian workers have full access to do their job.”
EU funding from this aid package provides humanitarian assistance in the following seven countries: Burkina Faso (€15.7 million), Cameroon (€17.8 million), Chad (€27.2 million), Mali (23.55 million), Mauritania (€11.15 million), Niger (€23.15 million) and Nigeria (€28 million). An additional €5.5 million is allocated to a regional project that fights malnutrition in Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger.
How EU aid helps:
- Food security: Lack of sufficient rainfall, scarce vegetation, and high food prices persist in some areas of the Sahel. EU humanitarian aid continues to go towards giving food assistance, health care and water to vulnerable households, especially in the most critical months of the year in-between harvests, where food reserves are severely depleted.
- Healthcare: In a region where nearly 3 million children under the age of five are at risk of severe acute malnutrition, another priority of EU humanitarian support is the prevention and treatment of this life-threatening condition. EU funding also helps awareness-raising about early diagnosis, support to the health system, and the supply of therapeutic foods and essential medicines for undernourished children.
- Preparedness: EU support also strengthens communities’ preparedness and quick response in risk-prone areas, especially as concerns food crises, people displacement, natural disasters, and epidemics. By linking humanitarian and development support, the EU is also contributing to measures aimed at building long-term community resilience.
The Sahel region is marked by extreme vulnerability and poverty. Regional and inter-community armed conflicts trigger mass displacements of people. Violence makes it impossible for people to access their fields or go to markets. It also disrupts the functioning and access to basic social services. At the same time, a succession of droughts have stifled communities’ ability to recover from food shortages. 4.4 million people in the region are in forced displacement, while 10.45 million people are estimated to be in need of emergency food assistance in 2019.
Background for possible local IPs:
With the intensification of conflict and widespread insecurity, Burkina Faso is facing a quickly deteriorating humanitarian situation with 123 000 newly displaced people in 2019 only. Refugees and internally displaced people depend largely on humanitarian assistance, while an estimated 687 000 people are in need of emergency food aid this year.
Cameroon is hosting around 394 000 refugees from the Central African Republic and Nigeria. There are also 770 000 internally displaced people, 530 000 of whom are people who had to flee their homes for their safety because of escalating tensions in the English-speaking Northwest and Southwest regions of Cameroon. €3 million of the EU’s humanitarian funding is bringing emergency relief to the people in need in these regions, including host communities, all in respect of the humanitarian principles of equality, impartiality, neutrality and independence.
This adds to the EUR 1.7M that the EU has already allocated in humanitarian assistance for the same crisis in 2018. This funding is being used for food, shelter, water and sanitation, essential household items and primary health care. In addition, it supports child protection and protection monitoring and response to identified cases of most vulnerable people (mainly – separated and/or unaccompanied – children, women, elderly), as well as humanitarian flights, essential in facilitating access to those most in need.
There are 4.3 million people in Chad in need of humanitarian assistance and 3.7 million people suffer from critical food shortages. Therefore, undernutrition, in particular in children, remains a major humanitarian concern. Chad also has the seventh largest refugee population in the world, putting high pressure on host communities, resources and the environment, already severely hit by food insecurity and erratic weather.
Around 17 per cent of the population in Mali is affected by protracted crises triggered by continuing armed conflicts, inter-community clashes and food insecurity. There were 133 000 newly displaced people in 2019 only. This situation, coupled with security measures, is adding pressure on the civilian population and limits people’s access to health, education and livelihoods, further aggravating food insecurity and acute malnutrition.
More than half of the population in Mauritania is suffering from food shortages requiring humanitarian assistance. Mauritania also hosts the second largest camp for refugees from Mali who depend on food assistance due to very scarce local resources.
Niger ranks last on the 2018 United Nations Development Programme’s Humanitarian Development Index. The country has many humanitarian needs. People are suffering from food insecurity and emergency levels of undernutrition in children. The deterioration of the security situation in Mali and the Lake Chad region is negatively impacting the food security and undernutrition situation in Niger. It is also leading to an increase in the number of people from these conflict-affected areas seeking refuge in Niger.
Violence has claimed the lives of thousands of civilians in northeast Nigeria and forced millions to flee their homes. Displaced people live in poor conditions, suffer from insecurity and rely mostly on support by local communities and aid organisations. High rates of acute malnutrition and worrying food insecurity levels in the country continue to be a key humanitarian concern.