International Rescue Committee (IRC) Country Directors from the central Sahel are traveling to European capitals including Brussels, London, Stockholm, Paris and Berlin to raise awareness and funds for the record number of people facing extreme hunger in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. The IRC aims to bring donors first hand information on the challenges faced by conflict and climate change affected populations in the Sahel and the urgent need for attention for the region.

Conflict, economic shocks and climate change have been driving mass displacement for years. With extreme hunger affecting the region this year, the scale of the need is rapidly growing; between 2015 and 2022, the number of people in need of emergency food assistance nearly quadrupled, from 7 to over 30 million. With the number of people expecting to be facing extreme hunger rising to over 40 million people by June of this year, urgent action is required to avert further suffering.

Hannah Gibbin, Deputy Regional Director for West Africa at the IRC said:

“We must raise awareness of the harsh conditions faced by millions of people in the Central Sahel. Funds to address the dire situation in the region which has been driven by years of insecurity and conflict must be increased. The crisis has reached a critical juncture - and more must be done to support populations that are experiencing extreme hunger and need. Populations in the Sahel will need at least 2 years to recover from the ongoing hunger crisis and if nothing is done, the needs will increase. 

“Already, millions of people are in dire need of humanitarian assistance, with women and children facing the brunt of the crises.  We cannot afford for the situation to be ignored, nor for aid budgets to be diverted away from the region.”

Franck Vannetelle, Mali Country Director at the IRC said,

“Over 7.5 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in Mali and sanctions have severely crippled access to social services that are so desperately needed by populations affected by crises across the country. As it is, the livelihoods of the most vulnerable households in the region have been critically affected by poor harvest seasons and lack of access to markets due to continued insecurity. It is key that we engage with development donors to address the challenges faced by populations regarding access to social services and humanitarian needs. 

Paolo Cernuschi, Niger Country Director at the IRC said,

“Year on year conflict and insecurity, compounded by climate shocks and poor access to basic social services has forced a record number of people to flee their homes. Without intervention, millions more will face severe hunger in the coming months. With reduced access to fields for people living in insecure areas in the Sahel and limited availability of seeds, our concerns for the next agricultural season are growing”.

Alain Cavenaile, Burkina Faso Country Director at the IRC said,

“Population displacement in Burkina Faso related to the security situation remains significant. Almost 2 million people have become displaced within the country, with over 90% of them unable to access land for the current planting season. The situation was already driving prices up on most markets with main cereals in February already showing an annual change of 33%. The crisis in Europe threatens to drive up food prices even further meaning even more people will not be able to meet their basic food needs. ”

The IRC has been working in the Central Sahel since 2012 reaching communities in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso through programs in water and sanitation, education, healthcare, economic livelihoods, rapid response mechanisms, emergency support and protection.