Warning against complacency, UN food agency calls for $47 million to help in Sahel

9 October 2006

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today issued a warning that millions of children across the Sahel region of West Africa remain at risk of malnutrition despite the arrival of the annual harvest season.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today issued a warning that millions of children across the Sahel region of West Africa remain at risk of malnutrition despite the arrival of the annual harvest season.

More than one in three children under the age of five in the region are chronically malnourished, WFP said as it called on donors to provide $47 million to help with its operations in Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania and Niger through next year.

Speaking from the Senegalese capital Dakar, WFP Senior Deputy Executive Director Jean-Jacques Graisse said “we have to break the bondage of malnutrition in the Sahel,” which suffers from the highest child mortality rates in the world.

At least 1.4 million children under five in the region suffer from acute malnutrition, which is responsible for more than half the deaths in that age category.

“Malnutrition does not simply disappear with the arrival of the new harvest and return the next lean season. WFP and our partners are fighting a battle that cannot be won over a few weeks or months. It will take years, and require the sustained support of the international community,” Mr. Graisse said.

WFP said in a press statement that recent donations by Saudi Arabia and the United States have eased immediate funding concerns, but the ongoing nutrition operations require continuing financial support.

Cereal production forecasts for the Sahel are optimistic this year after a relatively strong end to the region’s rainy season, but the agency said localized crop failures continue to occur.

 

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