The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is extremely concerned about escalating food and nutrition insecurity in West and Central African countries. Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Niger, and Nigeria are all anticipated to face Crisis (IPC3) level of food insecurity or worse during the lean season - the time between harvests - from June till August, according to the latest analysis of Cadre Harmonisé (CH) report, published by the IRC & more than a dozen international organizations working in the region. 

The magnitude of severe food insecurity and related malnutrition continues to intensify in the region. In the Central Sahel alone (Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger), 7.5 million people are affected, up from 5.4m last year. More than 2,500 people are due to face catastrophic, famine-like conditions if no urgent action is taken.

Modou Diaw, the IRC’s Regional Vice President for West Africa:

“We are extremely concerned about the rising levels of hunger and unacceptably high malnutrition levels in children under five: in parts of Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Nigeria, acute malnutrition rates are expected to reach ​​critical levels of over 15% during the imminent lean season - this is more than one in six children!  

In West and Central Africa, food insecurity has progressively worsened in the last five years. Climatic shocks exacerbate food insecurity, malnutrition and insecurity, and push youth, men, and women, to migrate both within and out of the region. 

The IRC has started to address the food crisis in the last decade starting with Mali, Niger and Chad, and subsequently expanding this work to more countries across the region. With the humanitarian response plan chronically underfunded for the Sahelian countries, at around 10% for 2024, the need far surpasses what the IRC and peer organizations have been able to address.” 

The IRC supports communities across the region to ensure their most basic survival needs are met and have the combination of assets and income to prosper through cash relief and livelihoods. In response to the deteriorating food insecurity findings of the Cadre Harmonisé in March 2022, the IRC region developed the Emergency Lifesaving Food Assistance Initiative to support over 186,000 people from more than 31,000 households to mitigate the shock of the severe food insecurity. 

Since 1991, the IRC has partnered locally in West Africa to empower people in crisis to survive and rebuild their lives. The IRC’s regional office for West Africa is based in Dakar, Senegal, and supports eight country programs in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Sierra Leone as well as a project-specific office in Monrovia, Liberia.