A dollar for a dollar for the Sahel

Arid soil in Mauritania. Canada launched the Sahel Crisis Matching Fund to help respond to the food crisis in the region. Photo by: Oxfam International / CC BY-NC-ND

Canada is seeking to replicate its successful fundraising action for its 2010 Haiti earthquake response to mobilize funds for the food crisis in the Sahel.

The government is offering to match Canadians’ donations — dollar for dollar — to support select international and Canadian humanitarian agencies’ work in the Sahel. The Canadian International Development Agency will administer the funds to organizations that include CARE Canada, Oxfam Canada, Plan Canada and Save the Children.

About half of the $1.6 billion funding target to aid the approximately 18.7 million people affected or at risk of facing a severe food security and nutrition crisis in the region remains unmet, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

This is the first known government pledge that has officially enlisted the public in a matching scheme to fundraise for the Sahel.

But matching collaborations between the public and private sector have been gaining steam over the past several years.

In June 2011, the GAVI Allianceannounced the GAVI Matching Fund, which targets to raise $260 million by the end of 2015 with support from the U.K. Department of International Development, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the private sector.

In the same month, the United Kingdom launched U.K. Aid Match, an initiative that matched public donations to a maximum 5 million pounds ($7.8 million). Save the Children was the first recipient of the aid-matching scheme.

Through a “dollar for dollar” initiative that ran between October and November 2011, meanwhile, Australia was able to raise more than $25 million for its Horn of Africa response.

Canada has already provided $47.5 million to the countries most affected in the Sahel region, which include Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia and northern Cameroon. It will kick-start the public matching fund with an initial contribution of $10 million and will match funds from Aug. 7 to Sept. 30, 2012.

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About the author

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    Amy Lieberman

    Amy Lieberman is an award-winning journalist based in New York City. Her coverage on politics, social justice issues, development and climate change has appeared in a variety of international news outlets, including The Guardian, Slate and The Atlantic. She has reported from the U.N. Headquarters, in addition to nine countries outside of the U.S. Amy received her master of arts degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in May 2014. Last year she completed a yearlong fellowship on the oil industry and climate change and co-published her findings with a team in the Los Angeles Times.