Broad swath of northern Africa faces food shortages, experts warn

December 15, 2011

Alternative Food

DAKAR, Senegal — More than 9 million people in five countries in Africa’s Sahel region face a food crisis next year after low rainfall, poor harvests, high food prices and a drop in remittances from migrants, aid agency Oxfam International said this week.

People in Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali and Chad are at particularly high risk, with national food reserves dangerously low and prices of some key cereals as much as 40 percent higher than the five-year average.

“The food situation in the region is once again alarming,” Eric Hazard, Oxfam regional economic justice manager, said at a news conference Monday in Dakar. “We are in a region today where we have a cereal deficit of about 2.5 million tons.”

Hazard said the most alarming situation is in Niger, where 6million are at risk. In Mali, 2.9 million people live in areas that might be hit by food shortages next year, and in Mauritania, 700,000 people are reported at risk of severe food insecurity.

The U.N. World Food Program estimates that 5 million to 7million people are affected by climate-related crisis and are in need of urgent assistance, with at least 1million children in the Sahel region facing malnutrition next year.

The Sahel’s continuing struggle to feed its population has been overshadowed this year by the crisis that has left more than 13million people at risk of starvation in Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Djibouti.

Reuters

Copyright © 2011, Chicago Tribune

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