Oxfam: Act to save West Africans

2011-12-13 10:26

Dakar - Millions of people in West Africa can only be saved from a major food crisis next year if aid preparations are scaled up, Oxfam warned on Monday.

"With early indicators pointing to a likely food crisis in 2012, with people at particularly high risk in Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali and Chad, now is the time to invest in preventative measures," the charitable aid agency said.

"Millions of people in West Africa could be protected from a serious food crisis if preparations are scaled up across West Africa," Oxfam added in a statement received in Dakar.

Governments across the region "should scale up efforts to make sure people have money to buy food, receive animal feed for their livestock and emergency food is stocked and ready to be distributed," it added.


Early warning systems have identified a range of factors that are contributing to the coming crisis.

"Low rainfall and water levels, poor harvests and lack of pasture, high food prices and a drop in remittances from migrants are all causing serious problems."

According to national early warning systems, it continued, cereal production is down compared to the five-year average, with Mauritania and Chad showing deficits of over 50% compared to last year.

National food reserves are also dangerously low, while prices of some key cereals are up to 40% higher than the five-year average.

While evaluations are still ongoing to identify those most at risk, early reports suggest 6 million people in Niger and 2.9 million people in Mali live in areas vulnerable to the coming crisis, while in Mauritania 700 000 people - over one-quarter of the population - are reported to be at risk.

330 600 Niger kids at risk

Burkina Faso and Chad are also at risk, Oxfam said.

The statements from Oxfam followed a similar warning by the United Nations, which on Friday appealed for urgent action to save a million children at risk of malnutrition.

The Sahel is an arid transitional zone stretching south of the Sahara desert and extending from Africa's Atlantic coast to the Red Sea.

According to Unicef, the most pressing needs are in the west African country of Niger, where 330 600 children under five are estimated to be at risk.

  • Larry - 2011-12-13 11:28

    Is there another way? 70 years of Aid has not worked and Trillons of Dollars have not worked.

      Fidel - 2011-12-13 12:12

      Aid organisations are the problem, each year millions of dollars are used to buy American-grown food that has to then be shipped across oceans. One wonders how a system of flooding foreign markets with American food, which puts local farmers out of business, actually helps better Africa. A better strategy would be to use aid money to buy food from farmers within the country, and then distribute that food to the local citizens in need.

      Morakane - 2011-12-13 12:34

      So right Larry. It makes my blood boil when I hear that more aid will be dished out. Throwing money at them will only make them more dependant!!Eish Eish Eish, when will they learn?

      Louis - 2011-12-13 17:56

      Stop the breeding. Simple!!!

      Chum Scrubber - 2011-12-13 18:12

      Aid is the biggest scourge Africa receives. All it does is make Africa dependant on handouts. Why bother growing your own food when you will be fed by these do gooders. Time to be cruel to be kind, stop the aid, and stop this repetitive process of starvation. Have some respect.

  • LandyNut - 2011-12-13 12:00

    Stop breeding like rabbits!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Fidel - 2011-12-13 12:17

      It's really the overpopulation of the developed countries that leads to a knock on effect in Africa. Europe does not grow enough food to sustain its population. So, the global capital system being what it is, it imports it from elsewhere, and the resources for this can deprive the inhabitants of these production areas from natural resources that would otherwise be used to feed themselves. The population of the EU is predicted to rise in the next 30 years. Given that they can't produce enough food to feed the population in the EU as it is now, where do you think it will come from? You really should do a little reading on this subject. Your belief that the world's problems can be solved by women choosing to cross their legs is incredibly uninformed and not suprising.

      Horst - 2011-12-13 13:42

      gee @Fidel, where do you get these 'facts' from?

      Louis - 2011-12-13 18:01

      Fidel, never heard such Cr.p in my life. The EU populations are decreasing not increasing and besides the EU produces more food that it needs and exports it, or gives it to poor African countries. That is where the problem lies, give, give, give . Remember that old saying "give a man to fish and he eats for one day, teach a men to fish,,,,,,,,” need I say more

      Chum Scrubber - 2011-12-13 18:18

      Fidel, nonsense, Europes population is stagnating, they are actually trying to create incentives for young people to have children. In Africa poor people have large families, and this results in a cycle of poverty. Get over your guilt and help Africa, it's liberal Europeans with guilt complexes that teach Africans to be helpless - guess it gives you a cause to live for. Annoys me intensely, I think it shows a lack of respect for Africans - Africa is like your SPCA.

  • Fidel - 2011-12-13 12:10

    This, completely oblivious to the fact that the areas in which the continent could well compete, it is deliberately excluded from competing in, because of import tariffs and government subsidies in supposedly "friendly" trading partners in Europe.

      Mark - 2011-12-13 13:27

      @Fidel. Your three comments refer. I totally agree with your first one - agriculture has become a loss-making sector for many years now, where food-aid is distributed. Your second comment makes no sense at all. Europe, if it had to, would have no problems in feeding itself. They have the capital, expertise, climate and land. The fact is, it is cheaper for them to import certain agricultural commodities, than grow them. You third comment is spot on. European farmers are protected by an army of gvt experts, who either subsidise them or put up impenetrable walls- usually of a phytosanitary nature - actual tariffing is not allowed these days, so they find other ways to exclude.

      Chum Scrubber - 2011-12-13 18:25

      I agree with you Fidel, on Europes protectionist policies, they are not just. All very well to protect your own, but they go overboard. Even EuroGap/GlobalGap, designed to ensure your food is safe, is abused to the extent they make it difficult for African farmers to match the requirements you put on them - and a lot of them are unreasonable. We are currently developing strong agricultural trading ties with the East, so we no longer need to be bullied by Europe. But stop giving aid to Africa without considering the long term consequences, and stop denying the impact large families are having on the lives of poor Africans!

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