UN Humanitarian Chief and WFP Focus on West African Food Crisis

26 April 2010: UN World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director Josette Sheeran has indicated that the intense droughts in Niger are escalating the humanitarian crisis and contributing to mass migration from rural to urban areas as well as to neighboring countries. She has announced that WFP will step up its aid to support 2.3 million people, particularly pregnant women and children, in the arid eastern Sahel region.

UN Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes is visiting West Africa in an attempt to review disaster management cooperation, risk reduction and strengthening humanitarian coordination. He will focus on the need to address the root causes of recurring food crises in the region and consider long-term solutions, such as investments in smallholder agriculture and rural infrastructure, strengthening poverty alleviation interventions and disaster risk reduction in the face of the growing threats of climate change. Holmes is travelling to the Zinder area of Southern Niger to assess the human impact of the food crisis, which is estimated to be affecting 7.8 million people. He has made an appeal to donors for $133 million to respond to the crisis. In addition, he is calling for help to support some two million people in Chad, 258,000 Malians, 370,000 Mauritanians and vulnerable communities in Northern Nigeria. [UN Press Release on Holmes' Travels] [WFP Press Release]