In 2010 poor harvests and water shortages threatened the lives of over 10 million people across West Africa.
Oxfam launched an emergency programme to provide support to 400,000 people in Niger, 100,000 people in Mali and 100,000 people in Chad.
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Irregular rains in 2009 caused a serious shortage of pasture and water and a poor harvest across West Africa. Niger was hit hardest with over 8 million people at risk. Further, some 2 million people were affected in Chad and an estimated 629,000 in Mali. Parts of Nigeria and Burkina Faso were also threatened. In Niger, the harvest fell by 26 per cent, and some areas, especially the Diffa in the East of country and Tillabéry to the West, have had no harvest at all. In Chad, harvests fell by 34 per cent. The areas of Hadjer Lamis, Batha, Kanem, Guera regions and eastern Chad were severely affected, especially from June 2010. Overall, the harvest in the Sahel decreased by 9 per cent with great disparities between East and West Sahel.
Oxfam was there
In the most vulnerable regions of Niger, especially in the Maradi, Tahoua, Tillabéry and Zinder regions, Oxfam distributed food and supplies to the poorest households and schoolchildren, protecting livestock and buying weak livestock from herders at above market levels.
Particularly important in the crisis was the early warning system developed by our partners in Niger and broadcast on rural radio networks. This gave cattle herders the information they need to act quickly. In Mali, we distributed food and animal feed to people worst affected by the crisis.
In Chad, Oxfam distributed food and seeds, and running agricultural and livelihood support projects. We also helped rehabilitate and maintain water points, and carrying out hygiene promotion.
Oxfam has worked in the Sahel region for decades, developing sustainable solutions to tackle the root causes of food shortages such as creating cereal and fodder banks, promoting income diversification as well as education and literacy.