D&P appeals for aid for West Africa as famine takes hold

  • May 8, 2012

As famine grips West Africa the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace is calling for donations so it can help its partners in the region distribute emergency food supplies and organize communities to prevent further deaths.

“This crisis has the potential to spiral into a major humanitarian catastrophe if we don’t act now,” said Development and Peace executive director Michael Casey.

There are an estimated 15 million people staring into the teeth of starvation. Crops failed last year, forcing marginal farmers to sell livestock and cut the trees that provide shade and prevent soil erosion.

The already hot region on the edge of the Sahara Desert has been affected by droughts punctuated with occasional heavy rains that simply wash away crops rather than deliver necessary moisture.

Food has become too expensive for a rising percentage of the population.

At the same time the region’s governments are fragile. A March coup in Mali displaced 100,000 Malians, some of whom are now refugees in neighbouring countries.

States of emergency have been declared in Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mauritania, but the drought extends to Senegal, Gambia, parts of Nigeria and Cameroon. Development and Peace has partner organizations in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso.

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