CERF provides $82 million to address drought and complex emergencies in the Sahel

Source:  UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

Country:  New York

26 April 2012, The United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has given some US$82 million in the last six months to help humanitarian organizations in the Sahel scale up assistance to address rising hunger, malnutrition and conflict-related displacement resulting from the crisis in Mali. Since November 2011, these grants to humanitarian partners in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, the Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal have provided immediate life-saving assistance to more than 3.5 million people.

Erratic rains against a backdrop of chronic food insecurity and malnutrition in parts of the Sahel have left 15 million people struggling to obtain enough food to eat. This year the lean season - the time when food from the last harvest runs out - began early and is expected to last longer than usual. An estimated 1.5 million children under age 5 are at risk of severe acute malnutrition. The conflict in northern Mali and the displacement of 270,000 people has exacerbated the crisis in the region, as families seek refuge in Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mauritania.

To thwart a potential wide-scale food, nutrition and refugee emergency in the Sahel, CERF has helped kick-start life-sustaining interventions through providing $82 million in grants to partners in the region.

“It is important to intervene early to avert a major tragedy in the Sahel and ensure that vulnerable families are able to cope in the face of difficult climatic and economic conditions,” said Steve O’Malley, Chief of the CERF secretariat in New York. “The CERF grants serve as an important catalyst for the response. It will help to generate much needed additional donor support to meet the immense needs of the region.” Overall, operational partners are appealing for more than US$ 1 billion to cover the needs of the region, and additional funding is critically required.

The Fund has been responding to the regional food crisis since November 2011 when it allocated $6 million to United Nations agencies in Niger to jump-start emergency food, nutrition and livelihood projects benefiting some 324,000 people. In January 2012, a grant of $4 million was provided to five UN agencies in Mauritania to help some 120,000 people in need of food aid and livelihood support. CERF also provided $6 million to partners in Chad in December 2011, followed by $2.4 million grant in March 2012 in response to the food crisis, which has been exacerbated by the repatriation of some 90,000 Chadians to the Sahel region following internal strife in Libya. Humanitarian partners in Cameroon, Mali and Senegal have also benefited from CERF funds for drought this year. In response to new arrivals of refugees from Mali, humanitarian partners in Mauritania were given $5.5 million in April, while humanitarian partners in Niger and Burkina Faso have received grants of $5 million and $4 million respectively.

CERF is funded by voluntary contributions from Member States, non-governmental organisations, local governments, and the private sector. This year, the donors pledged nearly $375 million in support of the Fund bringing the amount contributed to the CERF since 2006 to $2.8 billion.

As of 26 April 2012