West Africa – from food crisis to resilience

In 2012 sporadic rains, poor harvests and insecurity put 18 million people at risk across West Africa's Sahel region – which includes the countries Mali, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Chad, northern Nigeria and northern Cameroon. Your support for our West Africa Appeal helped us provide immediate humanitarian aid to reduce the impact of the crisis. It has also helped communities in drought and conflict affected areas build the resilience that will help them better withstand future crises.

women form west Africa

The West Africa food crisis – our response

Funds raised through our West Africa Appeal (now closed) helped us respond to the immediate needs of people in the region. The generosity of our supporters means we have also had enough funding to provide ongoing assistance to the region, helping communities build their resilience for future extreme events.

Thanks to your support and funding from the Australian Government, Caritas Australia was able to fund the following activities:

  • Mali: Food aid, hygiene, sleeping and school supplies, agricultural support for farmers and planning to help communities that may be affected by the ongoing military conflict.
  • Burkina Faso: Food aid, non-food aid, water, sanitation and hygiene, medical and nutritional support for children and livelihood support for farming families.
  • Chad: Food aid, training in sustainable agriculture, developing early warning systems for extreme weather events, supporting refugees.
  • Niger: Food supplies, including feeding centres for malnourished children, water and sanitation initiatives to prevent disease, temporary shelter, clothing and kits for refugees, livelihood support and training in sustainable agriculture.

Mariama and Fati
I would like to say a big thank you."

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Building for the future

The food crisis remained acute until the end of 2012, but then eased somewhat thanks to above-average rainfall, humanitarian relief efforts, and domestic and international resilience-building initiatives. Caritas Australia continues to support livelihoods and resilience-building activities in Niger, helping communities better withstand climate uncertainty and drought. Current activities we support include: 

  • Management and prevention of malnutrition in nutritional recovery centres – see below for an example of how these centres work.
  • Agricultural production and income generation activities.
  • Access to seeds, improved vegetable production and cash for work.

Essential food for life

Mariama and Fati

When Mariama’s little girl Fati becomes malnourished, she receives life-saving support from a Nutrition Centre supported by Caritas Australia in Niger.

The Centre cares for malnourished children by providing medical care, nutritional supplements and essential food. As Fati recovers, Mariama can receive counselling and skills training at the Centre to strengthen her spirit and build a livelihood. Read more about Mariama and Fati feature in Project Compassion 2015. Read more »

Explore our response in West Africa

Photo galleries
"There are some times when the children hold me and say grandma, we need to eat. I don’t have anything."

Mintou Gani ran out of food to feed her family. With help from our supporters, Mintou's family made it through the 2012 food crisis.

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Bonbatu – ‘I become stronger’
Blog, 21 Jan 2013
Caritas Australia is supporting a resilience project in the Tillaberi region of Niger in West Africa. The project is called ‘Bonbatu’ which means resilience in Zarma, the literal translation being to ‘protect myself’ or ‘I become stronger’ which is what this project aims to do for families vulnerable to food insecurity.
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Discussions with Bonbatu beneficiaries
Sahel food crisis: how do we prevent the next one?
Blog, 18 Jul 2012
Caritas and Oxfam have joined forces to argue for greater collaboration between aid and development agencies and a greater say for local communities in tackling the challenges of emergencies such as the food crisis in the Sahel region of West Africa.

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Photo Credit: Caritas Internationalis
More blog posts from our response »