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Plan continues to aid families in the Sahel

A Plan Humanitarian Affairs Advisor visits the Mentao Camp in Burkina Faso.
A Plan Humanitarian Affairs Advisor visits the Mentao Camp in Burkina Faso.
June 5, 2012

Without immediate and continued support from the international community, the Sahel food and refugees crises are poised to claim hundreds of thousands of lives. More than 1.5 million children under five suffer from severe acute malnutrition, an extremely serious condition which frequently results in death. More than 18 million people, almost half are children under 17, are at risk from hunger; nearly 500,000 Malians are internally displaced or refugees in a region where resources were already scarce.

“The dual crises across the West African Sahel region-food and refugees-are positioned to claim more lives over time than the Asian Tsunami with 273,000 dead or the Haitian Earthquake with more than 217,000 dead. Death from the complications of hunger and malnutrition is a slow, painful process,” said Adama Coulibaly, Regional Director for Plan in West Africa.

A lack of adequate funding to provide even the most basic relief remains the greatest challenge to the response across the region.

This spring, already above-average cereal prices in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger increased, raising the difficulties faced by communities suffering from chronic poverty. The high prices and low harvests are further complicated by the Malian conflict, with a negative impact to food access among vulnerable communities throughout the Sahel region from now until the start of the harvest season in October.

Many families have had to sell their livestock to cover their household food needs. Some are eating seeds instead of saving them to plant for the next season.

“Plan’s response in Senegal, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger focuses on the well-being of children, from the distribution of goods and food to the resumption of education and providing safe spaces for children in refugee camps. The response requires tremendous resources, human and financial, and Plan needs the support of people around the world to ensure the safety of tens of thousands of children,” continued Coulibaly.

Plan is supporting families across the region, in refugee camps, the displaced and those in vulnerable communities with not enough access to food and nutrition.

Burkina Faso:

  • Plan has built latrines in the Mentao camp, Soum province, to provide sanitation for the 7,777 people living here.
  • Plan will be supporting local authorities to hold summer classes for refugee children to catch up.
  • Projects to support the food insecurity in Sanmatenga and Namentenga will be implemented this month.


  • Plan supports the internally displaced populations in the six communes of Bamako.
  • 1,550 children and 4,482 families have been assisted by a distribution of food items.
  • More than 1,000 school children displaced in Kati received school kits to help them re-start their education.


  • Plan is managing one refugee camps in partnership with the UN.
  • Plan is providing clean water, food and assistance to refugees who have arrived with many herds of animals and are staying close to the border near the Ayourou camp.

In Cameroon and Senegal, Plan is working to provide immediate assistance, but is also stepping up prevention efforts and outreach through existing programs.

Through a partnership with the World Food Program in Senegal, food and nutrition support will be given to communities in three regions, Louga, Thies and Saint Louis, with a combined population of 1,462,237 and 11,769 case of severe acute malnutrition in children reported.

In most areas, the relief and response operations have been slow to develop and respond. There are many areas where services are not accessible. Plan is working with other humanitarian and government actors on the ground to coordinate coverage.

Support children affected by the crisis in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Cameroon, and Senegal.


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