Worst of dire Sahel food crisis preventable if aid is sent now

By June 20, 2012

Africa (MNN) — The food crisis in the Sahel region of Africa now threatens some 18 million people with hunger according to the U.N. humanitarian office OCHA.

West Africa's Sahel region–which includes Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal–gets very little rainfall as it is, reports Voice of America. Nearly a quarter of a million children die annually from malnutrition as a result. But recent years have caused all-out drought, allowing the Sahel to produce even less of a crop than usual.

Global Aid Network, or GAiN USA, has been responding to the crisis for the past several months. GAiN's Steve Watson says, "It's still very dire. The last crop had a failure rate of 75%."

The next harvest is months away.

The situation seems to only be getting worse, but Voice of America reports experts saying it's still possible to avoid the worst.

Preventative measures have been made by a number of governments. The African Press Organization says a number of international donor nations came together Monday to discuss what funding was necessary.

In the meantime, GAiN continues to send every bit of seeds, food, and aid they can spare to nip the hunger crisis in the ever-growing bud. Watson says GAiN has shipped three containers in just two months, one to Burkina Faso, and two to Gambia. They have plans to send more containers in coming weeks.

GAiN distributing partners have worked closely with the national governments, ensuring security and even allowing for government guards to protect the distributors as they hand out food. Already, the containers have gone much further than just physical nourishment.

"The government was so happy with the food that they just opened the doors for them to share the food. Along with that, they were able to share the Gospel," says Watson.

"They have been able to share the Gospel. And I've been told that several people in one of the very poor communities have come to Christ. So they're even starting a church in that area," Watson adds.

The crisis is large, but the effect of Christ's message is, too. Pray for GAiN distributors as they provide for so many needs. To help them send aid, click here.

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