UAE director highlights Africa’s food crisis
Dubai, June 17, 2012
Africa’s Sahel food crisis has been brought to centre stage with a new short video from a top Emirati filmmaker and supporter of Oxfam, the confederation of 15 organisations which combats poverty and injustice.
The looming food crisis in Africa’s Sahel region, endangering more than 18 million people across Mali, Senegal, Mauritania, Niger, Gambia, Burkina Faso, northern Nigeria and Chad, is the focus of Ali F Mostafa.
The one-minute video is one of several Oxfam initiatives to raise awareness and funding in and from the Middle East to help vulnerable populations in the West and Central African nations.
Mostafa has also previously supported other Oxfam initiatives. In 2011, he went on a five-day trip to Mali and worked together with Oxfam to support some humanitarian projects aimed at providing basic education to children in Mali.
The Sahel’s vulnerability stems from erratic rainfall, leading to poor food harvests, high food prices and water shortages, exacerbated in some areas by domestic conflict and population displacement.
Early warning systems in place across the region earlier this year cautioned the West and Central Africa nations would face a repeat of previous food crises in 2005, 2008 and 2010, the last of which affected more than 10 million people – those fears are now a reality.
Mostafa, who visited Mali in November 2011 as part of his support to Oxfam, said: “People in Mali are running out of food – just like those in Niger, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Chad. While the world looks the other way, 18.4 million people are going hungry. Children will die in huge numbers if we don’t act now – and this can be avoided if we are all pulling in the same direction.”
The director and the aid agency are looking to existing and new government, institutional and corporate donors in the Middle East to commit funds for emergency and relief work; and to individuals in the region to spread awareness and encourage high-level involvement.
Last month, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated that 18.4 million people in the Sahel are vulnerable to the effects of the food crisis, from more than 713,000 in the Gambia to over 6.4 million in Niger; OCHA also estimated that over $1.5 billion is needed to address current needs – and only half of that money has been mobilized to date.
Oxfam, the global development and aid agency, must raise at least US$53 million urgently to provide life-saving humanitarian aid to 1.2 million people in the Sahel. So far, it has raised one half of its target.
“We are at a crucial point for aid to the Sahel,” said Oxfam chief executive Barbara Stocking. “For many people, the situation is becoming desperate. It is important to remember that droughts are natural, but hunger is man-made. The Sahel will always suffer from droughts, but need not suffer from hunger if the right actions are taken. It is not too late to respond, but we must act quickly. Delays will not only cost countless lives, it will also cost donors more in the long run.”
“Thanks to the early warning systems, we knew about this coming crisis earlier than ever before, and governments in the region have recognised the problems. Now they need the support and focus of the humanitarian community. The world needs to act now and not let history repeat itself in the Sahel,” she added. – TradeArabia News Service