Devastating floods threaten food security of millions across the Sahel and Sudan
Torrential rains have displaced hundreds of thousands of people across the Sahel and Sudan since August. What are believed to be the heaviest seasonal rains in a decade have led to floods that are sweeping away food stocks, submerging cropland and wiping out livestock, threatening lives and livelihoods across the region.
In Burkina Faso, where one in five people has been displaced by violence, the country is seeing dangerous water levels in all 13 regions. Niger has reported over 16,000 ha of agricultural land flooded and some 550,000 people impacted. More than 236,000 people in Chad and 50,000 in Mali have had their homes, cereal stores and farmland destroyed. Over 180,000 people in Nigeria have suffered extensive damage or displacement, and a staggering 860,000 people across 17 states in Sudan, which is also reporting soaring inflation and thousands of hectares of crops lost just before the harvest.
This comes at a time when millions are already facing Crisis or Emergency levels of food insecurity during the current lean season, including 9.6 million people in Sudan, 8.5 million in Nigeria and 3.3 million in Burkina Faso. The situation has drastically deteriorated compared to the past five years, as food-insecure numbers soared by 225 percent in Burkina Faso, 91 percent in Mali and 77 percent in Niger.
Meanwhile an ongoing upsurge in violence and conflict across the Sahel over the past few years has also forced millions to flee their homes, both within and across borders. COVID-19 is further complicating an already dire situation, with tens of thousands of cases and health systems stretched to their limits. Tight prevention and containment measures against the virus’ spread have been imposed, upending market dynamics, limiting families’ already dwindling resources and reducing the amount of food available even further.
FSC partners are currently coordinating food and livelihoods support and carrying out widescale monitoring and assessments of the damage. However, as many roads have become impassable, access is treacherous and cutting off assistance to those most in need of it.
Unless urgent action is taken and long-term sustainable measures put in place, the fallout on food security and livelihoods could spiral. The FSC requires 1.1 billion USD to implement emergency, life-saving food assistance and livelihoods support for a record 26 million acutely food-insecure people in the worst flood-affected countries of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Sudan.
Given the scale of the crisis and the alarming gaps in funding needs, the gFSC urges our financial partners to increase their commitments so we can expand our operations and continue to work with our partners: ensuring food and livelihoods assistance reaches the most vulnerable in time will be critical to the survival of millions of people.