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Media advisory – Sahel food crisis

February 03 2012 - Thousands of people along the border with Niger and Burkina Faso are being forced to leave their homes in search of food as a result of the deepening food crisis in the Sahel region of Africa.

Additional info: http://www.christianaid.org.uk/emergencies/areas-of-concern/west-africa-food-shortages.aspx.

Christian Aid has sent and emergency task force to the north of Burkina Faso to develop its programme of emergency feeding in one of the worst affected areas.

Amanda Farrant of Christian Aid will be available to give an eyewitness account of the conditions at Gorom-Gorom in the Sahel reserve near the Niger border tomorrow morning, 4 February.

As a result of failed rains and widespread drought, Mali lost 11.8% of total cereal output between 2010–2011, while in Burkina Faso it is estimated that 41.47% of the country will face severe food insecurity, and in Niger the government believe that more than half of the nation’s villages are now running out of basic food.

Families in the Sahel are also being affected by the recent conflicts in Libya and Cote d’Ivoire as relatives are no longer able to send money home from these countries.

The most recent joint evaluation by CILSS, FAO, WFP and FEWNET conducted in January 2012 estimates that in Niger, 5,458,000 people are food insecure, including 1,324,000 at severe levels; in Mauritania, 700, 000 people – over one-quarter of the population - are food insecure, including 290,000 people at severe levels in rural areas; and 1,671,178 people are vulnerable in Burkina Faso.

The results of evaluations are expected soon in Mali, Chad and Senegal, but WFP and FAO estimate that 3,000,000 people in Mali and 850,000 people in Senegal live in areas at risk10, while earlier evaluations in Chad estimated that 13 out of 22 regions could be affected11. Overall, the European Commission estimates that at least 7 million people will need support over the next six months.

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To arrange an interview with Amanda Farrant tomorrow, please contact Sarah Wilson on 07930 341 525 or 07850 242950 

Notes to Editors:

1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in nearly 50 countries. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people build the lives they deserve.

2. Christian Aid has a vision, an end to global poverty, and we believe that vision can become a reality. Our report, Poverty Over, explains what we believe needs to be done – and can be done – to end poverty.  Details at http://www.christianaid.org.uk/Images/poverty-over-report.pdf

3. Christian Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of 100 churches and church-related organisations that work together inhumanitarian assistance and development.  Further details at http://www.actalliance.org

4. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid_newswire

5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid visit www.christianaid.org.uk