U.S. Increases Emergency Assistance to the Sahel

The United States is providing over $81 million in additional humanitarian assistance to help those most in need in the wake of the drought gripping the Sahel region of West Africa, Nancy Lindborg, Assistant Administrator for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced in Rome today.  This new assistance brings the total U.S. Government humanitarian assistance to the region to over $308 million in Fiscal Year 2012.

“When I was in Rome earlier this year I pledged, along with other donors, to match early warning with early action in the Sahel, and the U.S. government has lived up to that pledge,” said Lindborg.  “This additional assistance will provide lifesaving food aid for some of the most vulnerable people across the Sahel.  To ensure that we reach people as quickly as possible, a portion of this food will be purchased regionally.”

This additional funding will provide over $56 million to the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP), of which $36.9 million is for in-kind food aid and distribution and $20 million for the regional purchase and distribution of sorghum, a staple food in the local diet.  It will also provide $29 million in assistance through non-governmental organizations for programs that address acute household food insecurity while supporting key construction and rehabilitation activities that lead to longer-term, more sustainable food security.

Karen Johnson, Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Mission to the UN Agencies in Rome, noted in particular that “this sizable contribution to WFP for the Sahel demonstrates our continued partnership with WFP in fighting hunger worldwide and our confidence in WFP’s capacity as an organization.”

“As the Sahel enters the lean season, more than 16 million people face food insecurity, and the needs continue to grow,” said Lindborg.  “Working in partnership with government-led initiatives and with the international community, the United States stands with the people of the Sahel as they face this crisis.”

U.S. Government humanitarian assistance includes food assistance, nutritional support, and agriculture, livestock, and livelihoods projects across the Sahel that meet immediate needs and work to build community resilience to future food security crises.