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West Africa food crisis

Map of affected area

The situation

In early 2012, due to low rainfall, poor harvests and sky-rocketing food prices, the Sahel region of West and Central Africa faced a massive food crisis in which more than 18 million people faced severe food shortages and nearly 1 million children were at risk of acute malnutrition.

Oxfam has been able to reach more than 1.1 million men, women and children with life-saving assistance.

Less erratic weather and increased cereal harvests started to see a steady improvement in food security across the region; however, recent heavy rains and flooding in Niger, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania and Mali are having a devastating effect on people’s crops, their health and long-term recovery prospects.

Oxfam’s response


The political situation in Chad remains relatively calm for the time being and Oxfam has been able to reach more than 214,333 people with life-saving food and water distribution. Unfortunately there are still 127,300 children suffering from acute malnutrition and more than 1.8 million people with no access to long term food sources. We are scaling up our work, deploying emergency intervention in the hope of reaching another 10,000 people in the worst affected areas.

Most recently we’ve been distributing household and hygiene kits to homes destroyed by floods. The floods have also damaged fields, ruining harvests for many people already suffering since last season’s drought.

We are combining a long-term approach with an emergency response to the food crisis. Our programs include targeted food distribution, cash-for-work programs, agricultural support, animal health and building and fixing wells.


Oxfam has reached 331,220 people in Niger since the beginning of the food crisis, providing them with much-needed food and water, implementing cash-for-work and cash transfer programs. More than 5.5 million people are still considered to be food insecure and Oxfam is working on finding long-term solutions to food security such as developing cereal and seed banks and supporting community vegetable gardens.

Recently, parts of Niger were hit by severe flooding, resulting in more than 481,815 people being affected. Oxfam is planning to reach the worst affected households with emergency food and water.


In Senegal, the food crisis is still affecting 739,000 people. We plan to reach 85,000 people by distributing emergency cash grants through a local bank. The money will allow the neediest farmers to buy food for their family and will cover the cost of fixing community wells and buying seeds to plant. Severe flooding has also affected approximately 400,000 people in the Dakar area, making the recovery phase much harder.


Oxfam aims to assist approximately 160,000 people with cash transfers, food vouchers, and other essential items. Despite the tenuous security situation caused by recent conflict in Mali (and surrounding areas in Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger), we continue our work in Gao in the country’s north, while also supporting communities in Kayes in the west.
We will be undertaking a number of community projects — grain stores, seed banks, support to gardening groups and providing help to local traders to assist recovery and reduce people’s vulnerability to future crises.

What you can do to help

By donating to our Africa crisis appeal, you will be helping Oxfam to provide life-saving aid to those who need it most in the Sahel and other African regions affected by crisis.

Donate now