U.N. seeks $2 billion for aid to Africa's Sahel region

Feb. 3, 2014 at 3:28 PM
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ROME, Feb. 3 (UPI) -- The United Nations and its partners Monday appealed for $2 billion in aid 20 million people needing food in Africa's Sahel region.

"More people than ever are at risk in the Sahel and the scale of their needs is so great that no agency or organization can tackle it alone," said Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos at the appeal launch in Rome. "The strategic plan for the region will help us reach millions of people with vital assistance, build resilience and save lives."

In the Sahel, a region extending from Mauritania to Eritrea, more than 20 million people are at risk of hunger and an estimated 5 million children under the age of 5 are at risk of acute malnutrition, the United Nations said in a release. The Sahel also divides the Sahara and the savannahs to the south, a region that has experienced three major droughts in less than 10 years.

The three-year strategy comprises country-specific plans for Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal that stress strong partnerships with governments and development partners and a regional perspective, among other things, the United Nations said.

"Our first priority is to ensure that farmers in the Sahel have a successful planting season in the coming weeks, providing them urgently with agricultural inputs," said U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva.

Da Silva said the overall goal is to build resilience of the population in the Sahel to prevent the next drought from becoming a major humanitarian crisis.

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