FAQs about the West Africa food crisis

The deepening food crisis in West Africa has sparked fears of a major famine. Unless urgent action is taken, events in the region might easily mirror the kind of devastation seen recently in the Horn of Africa.

With our ongoing coverage of this escalating emergency, you may have a variety of questions about what's going on in West Africa. Here’s a quick guide to understanding the crisis and how World Vision is responding.

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What went wrong?

Poor rains have led to poor harvests. Crop yields have been nonexistent in some areas -- and severely reduced in others. In addition, recent conflicts, the return of hundreds of migrant workers, and a flow of refugees from Mali into one of the most affected areas of Niger further strain an already stressed food supply.

How many people are affected?

A woman stirs a very watery soup of indeterminate ingredients at a makeshift camp in Niger. Ongoing drought has created a food crisis that could turn catastrophic if emergency action is not taken.

A woman stirs a very watery soup of indeterminate ingredients at a makeshift camp in Niger. Ongoing drought has created a food crisis that could turn catastrophic if emergency action is not taken.

About 23 million people spread across the region in countries such as Niger, Mauritania, Mali, Chad, and Senegal are either already facing desperate food shortages or are in imminent danger of such shortages.

How is the current emergency different from previous crises?

The gap between the previous West Africa food crisis and the current one is barely two years.

Although the Sahel region is prone to droughts, the typical period between instances of drought was previously five to 10 years. Affected populations have exhausted their traditional means of coping with these kinds of emergencies.

What is the impact on children?

Hungry children are more vulnerable to malnutrition and disease, and they must walk longer distances to find water -- making them vulnerable to attacks by animals and human predators.

How is World Vision helping?

World Vision has extensive programs in Niger, Mauritania, Mali, and Chad designed to meet immediate needs and improve long-term food security.

Some of  our response activities include:

  • Nutrition programs for children
  • Free food distribution
  • Distributing seeds
  • Educating parents to help them keep their children healthy
  • Providing additional livestock — much of it through Gift Catalog donations

How are the crises in West Africa and the Horn of Africa related?

Read "Hunger and drought creep across northern Africa," our recent post detailing the situations in these two regions and how the two emergencies overlap.


You can read an article on our website for some additional answers to common questions about the West Africa food crisis.

Make a one-time gift today to help provide life-saving food and care to children suffering from hunger. Your donation will help provide emergency food aid, agricultural assistance, clean water, nutritional training, and more to regions like West Africa and the Horn of Africa, where the humanitarian need is great.

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