Education can end malnutrition

Turn the page on poverty

Building resilience in West Africa


Throughout 2012 over 18 million people in West Africa were affected by a severe food crisis caused by drought, a failure of several crops and sharp rises in food prices.


The lives of over 1 million children were at risk from severe malnutrition. Communities across the Sahel suffered, and malnutrition rates remain dangerously high, but a major humanitarian operation managed to avert a large number of fatalities, acting earlier than ever before to protect the lives and livelihoods of millions people. 


Oxfam played a major part in this effort, providing urgently needed assistance to over 1 million people throughout the year, while over 600,000 of our supporters worldwide joined us in campaigning to raise the alarm and help mobilise the international community into action. 


At the end of 2012, good rainfall and better harvests have provided some relief. Cereal production is 13% higher than last year, but this does not mean the crisis is over. Food prices remain high and many farmers were unable to take advantage of the better rains to plant their crops. Malnutrition rates for children remain above emergency levels in many parts of the region. Millions of people still require sustained support to recover from the crisis, rebuild their assets and livelihoods, and be able to support their families. 


As well as dealing with the immediate challenges of helping people recover, it is clear that much needs to be done to tackle the underlying causes of food crises in the Sahel, not least the fact that over 230,000 children die of malnutrition-related causes even when the harvests are 'good'. Oxfam is dedicated to support small-scale farmers produce more food, support the incomes of the poorest people through social protection programmes, and build systems of food reserves. These are just some of the things that can be done to build the resilience of communities to future shocks, and avoid crises of the future.

Article type: 
News item

You can help with future emergencies

Oxfam aims to respond immediately to humanitarian emergencies and natural disasters, but we can only do this if we have funds ready when they are needed. You can help: