World Jewish Relief (WJR), in its capacity as the UK Jewish community’s primary humanitarian aid agency, has launched an emergency appeal to assist those affected by a mounting food crisis in the Sahelian countries of West Africa.
An estimated 12 million people, including one million children, are facing a severe lack of food across large swathes of West Africa including Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. A combination of factors – including drought-reduced crop yields, high food prices, and displacement due to regional conflict – has left vulnerable communities facing hunger, malnutrition and, in increasing mortality.
Severe poverty and successive poor harvests have seen the region’s ability to cope with drought significantly decrease over recent years. The worsening situation is expected to peak in severity in August or September this year as food reserves from previous harvests run out and before the next meagre harvest is collected. As livestock prices collapse and along with it the traditional terms of trade, rural communities have no safety net nor reserves to draw upon.
WJR is ready to respond and will work with local trusted partners to meet communities’ short and longer term needs. As well as providing food relief to vulnerable groups including older people, those with disabilities, women and children, we will assist them in building their resilience to future food crises.
Paul Anticoni, WJR’s Chief Executive, said,
“In keeping with the Jewish imperative of Tikkun Olam, we are once again calling on our generous community to help us assist people in desperate need.
“When previous crises of this nature have developed – such as last year in East Africa – the international community was criticised for waiting too long to respond. While a massive response was finally mobilised, it was dependent on television pictures showing thousands of dying children. None of us can afford to wait for such a disastrous situation to start responding – we have to be there before it is too late.
“Sophisticated early warning systems are in place across Africa, and we are already seeing severe malnutrition in many regions. We must learn lessons from the past and act now to prevent a humanitarian disaster.”