Invest in Sahel Now, EU Aid Chief Says

A landscape of Sahel, Africa. Photo by: Daniel Tiveau / CIFOR / CC BY-NC-ND

Seven million people are already facing severe food shortage in parts of the Sahel region in Africa, and the numbers are feared to increase if donors do not step up their investments in the region before disaster strikes.

EU aid chief Kristalina Georgieva warns of severe food shortage next year in the Sahel because of erratic rainfall and localized dry spells. And while the European Commission has already increased its donation to the region by 10 million euros ($13.4 million) in November — which is currently being used to buy food, fund mobile clinics that identify early signs of malnutrition and provide cash to women — Georgieva is frustrated with the international community’s slow response to the crisis, The Guardian reports.

“Too often the massive response comes when the crisis is already deepening and on the six o’clock news,” she said. “We have to be ready to act independently of the news cycle.”

Georgieva said that investing in the Sahel now would be less expensive for donors. She said preventive measures are important in tackling drought, and cited a situation in Kenya where collecting rainfall on roofs and reducing livestock numbers prepared the people well in this year’s drought.

“One of the most valuable lessons from Kenya is that long-term initiatives on drought resistance pay off,” she said.

Apart from food shortage, Sahel is currently experiencing conflict, forced migration and limited resources due to climate change.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.