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Today, all the conditions that lead to a major food and nutrition crisis are fulfilled in Sahel. In Niger and Mali, the current situation can be compared to the previous large-scale crises of 2011/12 and 1983/84.
The lean season is expected to start much earlier than usual (before June 2022), with depleted food stocks and increased demand on markets. Food prices are likely to increase even more than currently observed as some governments in the Sahel anticipate the lean season by rebuilding their food stocks. The most likely scenario is that the exceponal price increase will be further amplified by the Ukraine crisis. In areas less directly affected by conflict and insecurity, the consequences of climate shocks have been disastrous for food and fodder production. The Sahelian countries have experienced a significant drop in food production, with for example, a 38% decrease in Niger.
In addition, the increasing level of uncertainty in the markets has led to high food prices and low availability on the shelves. Areas not directly affected by conflict or displacement are receiving less donor support, while the 2021 agricultural season was disastrous due to poor rainfall in August. The small areas under cultivation are often devastated by granivorous birds and pachyderms’ attacks, as seen in the Extreme North of Cameroon. Already, in November 2021, it was estimated that the available pastures would only cover herd needs for three months, thus provoking an earlier than usual start to the transhumance, especially from Mauritania and Western Mali. We expect this year a particularly difficult pastoral lean season and increased difficulties in integrating pastoral and agricultural activities and communities with a higher risk for land conflicts, community stigmatizations, and violence.
All these factors significantly contribute to the increase of acute malnutrion (GAM and SAM) in the region. If responses are not provided in an early, appropriate, and targeted manner, the degradation of the situation is likely to be more alarming, with stock-outs of RUTF inputs, especially Plumpy Nut. This may contribute to a deterioraon in SAM case management performance indicators, such as death rates, dropouts and relapse rates. In 2022, more than 9.6 million cases of global acute malnutrition are expected in the region in children aged 6-59 months, of which 1.8 million will be severe cases¹.
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