Top aid officials appeal for urgent aid, action in Sahel

Urgent humanitarian aid to the tune of $725 million is needed to address growing humanitarian needs in Africa’s Sahel region in 2012. This is according to U.N. and key aid officials who are mapping out ways to boost response to hunger-stricken countries in the region.

“We have a short time to act. Drought is on the way but it can also be avoided. We have two or three months. No more than that,” said Jose Graziano da Silva, director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organization, according to Agence France-Presse.

Graziano was speaking after a meeting in Rome, Italy, with U.N. Development Program chief Helen Clark, European Union aid commissioner Kristalina Georgieva, and World Food Program head Josette Sheeran. Nancy Lindborg, an assistant administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, was a participant as well.

At the meeting, Georgieva announced a €30 million ($39.2 million) donation to support WFP’s feeding programs in the region. This latest EU aid package is in addition to the €123.5 million the bloc pledged last week.

But aside from urgent humanitarian aid, Sahel countries like Niger, Mali and Mauritania need resilience-building assistance, the leaders stressed at the meeting. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies made a similar appeal and highlighted the need to heed early warnings of possible crisis in the region.

“IFRC is urging donors to come to the aid of the Sahel but also to invest in longer term resilience to break the cycle of chronic food shortages in the region,” the group said in statement, as quoted by AFP.

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About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.