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Sahel (Harvest Failure)

Volume 450: debated on Friday 20 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assistance the UK is offering to (a) Nigeria, (b) Mali, (c) Mauritania and (d) Burkina Faso following the failure of the harvests in the Sahel; and if he will make a statement. (93444)

Extreme poverty, marginal livelihoods, and other chronic issues lie at the heart of the crisis which affected the Sahel in 2005, with inadequate rainfall, and locust infestation in 2004, adding to the problem. This situation led to deficits in the 2004 harvest, further antagonised by extreme food-price rises, and reductions in the poorest populations' access to food. In 2006, following adequate rainfall and with food production expected to be above the five-year average, the humanitarian situation remains relatively stable, but, owing to longer-term chronic vulnerabilities, the burden of acute childhood malnutrition remains high in some areas, and livelihoods remain precarious. DFID's response is as follows:

(a) Niger—In 2005 DFID was one of the first donors to respond to the crisis in Niger providing £3.25 million to the initial relief effort, and followed up with a further £2 million to aid the recovery process and ease further humanitarian stresses through into 2006. In 2006-07 DFID is providing an additional £1.5 million to continue the response to the high rates of childhood malnutrition that prevail, and to boost food-security through the on-going hungry season, since the legacy of the 2005 crisis persist.. This funding is being provided through United Nations agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) who are engaged in continuing relief operations in the country.

(b) Mali—In 2005-06 DFID provided £550,000 through the World Food Programme's (WFP) emergency feeding programme, which enabled 175,000 children under the age of five to receive vital support.

(c) Mauritania—Food aid needs remain high. In 2006-07 DFID has contributed £250,000 through the World Food Programme (WFP) to support feeding activities for 50,000 malnourished children and vulnerable mothers in the badly affected agro-pastoral zone in the south east of the country.

(d) Burkina Faso—In 2005-06 DFID provided £105,000 through Catholic Relief Services for their emergency food assistance and livelihood protection programme, enabling 57,000 vulnerable people to receive emergency support. DFID will continue to monitor the humanitarian situation in the Sahel closely, and will maintain its flexible humanitarian support to short-term emergency, recovery and mitigation needs over the coming year. Simultaneously, DFID is planning to allocate an additional £1.5 million over the next three years to tackle longer-term nutritional vulnerabilities in the Sahel region, and is exploring longer-term options for strengthening food-security.