Revision of the Consolidated Appeal for West Africa 2006

28 March 2006

The food security and nutritional crisis that affected a number of Sahelian countries in 2004-2005 highlighted once again the high level of vulnerability of the region’s populations, which stems from a combination of adverse events and structural factors, and impact the risk of infectious disease outbreaks as well as the population's psycho-social well-being, especially that of children and women. This vulnerability stems from a combination of economic and structural factors. Initiatives to address this situation in the long term are ongoing, but in view of the fragile outlook for the food security situation in certain areas of Sahelian countries during the 2006 lean season it will also be necessary to respond to short- and medium-term needs in an effective and well-coordinated manner.

In spite of good results of the 2005/2006 harvests, the situation in certain areas of the Sahel is of great concern. Joint assessment missions in early December revealed that as early as March 2006, or June 2006 at the latest, households will be at risk of having a major food access problem again.[1]  The mission underlines that the favourable results of the 2005/2006 harvests should not obscure the very heavy carry-over of food and asset deficit from last year.  With very limited food production, high livestock mortalities, and record high prices for millet and other cereals, 2004 had long-term consequences on household assets and savings, on levels of indebtedness, and on the health and nutritional status of the population.

The record high prices for cereals in 2005 induced a major negative income effect on already impoverished households, and will constitute a very heavy burden in terms of debt repayment in 2005/06.  In Niger, a sack of millet borrowed in the late spring of 2005, for instance, required at least 2.5 to 3 sacks of millet as repayment by October of the same year.  Considering the deep and widespread indebtedness accumulated in 2004, the reduction of the food stocks available to households at the beginning of the 2005/06 marketing year will be considerable.

An important aspect of the 2005 crisis was the very critical nutritional situation of young children. The crisis has been referred to as “an unprecedented nutrition crisis in children”.  From September to November 2005 the United Nations Chidren’s Fund (UNICEF) conducted a series of rapid nutrition assessments in Burkina Faso, Mali and Mauritania as well as in-depth reviews of national surveys in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.  The assessments and reviews show that in these countries there is a severe nutrition crisis in children that crosses borders; malnutrition is implicated in 52% of child deaths.  In other words, half the child mortality burden in these countries is due to malnutrition in children (280,000 child deaths are attributable to malnutrition each year).

According to UNICEF, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad all registered acute malnutrition rates for 6-59 months old above the 15% critical emergency threshold defined by the World Health Organization (WHO); Mali and Mauritania have acute malnutrition rates above 10% defined by WHO as a threshold for a ‘serious situation.’  The aggregated prevalence of acute malnutrition for all five countries is 15.2%. The above-cited facts demonstrate that the highly publicised nutrition crisis in Niger is only one representative sample of a region-wide nutrition crisis in children that requires an urgent and effective regional response.

During the Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP) that led to the formulation of a Common Humanitarian Action Plan (CHAP) for West Africa for 2006 it was agreed that since the level of food and nutrition assistance needed in the Sahel during 2006 could not be estimated prior to assessments in October and November 2005, an action plan and projects related to the food and nutritional needs in these countries should only be finalised upon completion of analysis after the harvest.

In mid-January the revision process began and in February and March the four Country Teams in Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania and Niger as well as Regional Offices of the World Food Programme (WFP), UNICEF and WHO have reviewed the situation in consultation with concerned Governments and are hereby appealing for funds to cover humanitarian activities in the Sahel during the remainder of 2006.

This document is a revision of the geographical cluster covering the Sahelian countries included in the West Africa Consolidated Appeal for 2006.  The new projects’ funding requirement of US$ 91,942,594[2] therefore needs to be added to the (slightly revised) requirements of the original appeal, currently at  $152,060,937. The revised total requirements for the West Africa Consolidated Appeal Revision for 2006 will thus amount to $244,003,531 (or 152,060,937+ 91,942,594).

When developing the revision at hand, humanitarian actors have taken into consideration the difficulties encountered in trying to establish a consensus on the humanitarian situation in the Sahel in 2005 which ultimately impacted the quality of the response, its timing and the way in which targeting was decided upon.  To avoid a similar situation in 2006 it was felt that the largest possible range of experience and expertise should be drawn upon and a wide consultation take place to allow for a better dialogue and less discrepancies in readings of the situation.

In line with the above, in November 2005 humanitarian, development, governmental and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) met in Dakar for a two-day conference on the Sahel[3].  The meeting took place within the framework of an ongoing regional consultative process involving all stakeholders and provided a platform where a diversity of views were expressed and a rich dialogue established among key stakeholders by revisiting past and current initiatives in the Sahel; delineating new ideas to be tested against a variety of national perspectives; and by generating a joint action plan for the Sahel that may contribute to the development of pragmatic policies and practical responses to reduce poverty, strengthen coping capacities in times of food crises, address acute humanitarian needs and improve overall human security in the Sahel.

In Ouagadougou in March, the Comité Inter-Etat de Lutte contre la Secheresse (CILSS) co-organised with OCHA and UNDP a follow-up meeting which allowed for national, regional, governmental and non-governmental actors to discuss the appeal and ways of strengthening complementarity between emergency response and initiatives undertaken within the framework of more long-term capacity building.

It should also be noted that the choice of countries for inclusion in this appeal revision is not based on the criteria of deficit in food production, but rather on the malnutrition problems faced during the lean season.  The high levels of malnutrition registered in 2005 were caused by a complexity of factors that went beyond food production, such as access to food, potable water, sanitation / health facilities, diseases, weaning practices, and others.  Another important element was the degree of indebtedness of food insecure households.  Moreover, pastoralists have been hard hit by the crisis during the 2005 lean season.  High cereal prices and falling animal prices in the most affected areas have led to some households having to liquidate assets in the face of these harsh terms of trade, and countries covered in this revision addendum include those which pastoralists have faced a severe situation in 2005, needing assistance throughout the 2006 lean season.


[1] From October 21 to November 4, the Government of Niger, FAO, and WFP (regional and country offices), CILSS/AGRHYMET, FEWSNet, and an observer from the US State Department’s bureau for humanitarian affairs carried out a preliminary assessment of food supply and food security. This was followed by a high-level visit to Diffa, Zinder, Maradi, Tahoua and Dosso Regions, and focused more specifically on the location and number of vulnerable communities (villages à risque). Report is available at . See also FAO/GIEWS Global Watch “Niger Assessment – Putting the 2005/06 Season in Proper Context” of 7 December 2005 (available at

[2]  All dollar figures in this document are United States dollars.  Funding for this appeal should be reported to the Financial Tracking Service (FTS,, which will display its requirements and funding on the CAP 2006 page.

[3] See for report from the meeting and copies of the presentations carried out.


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28 March 2006

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