Skip to main content

A child has the circumference of her arm measured to check her growth, at a walk-in feeding center in Mao, capital of the Kanem region of Chad.

Ben Curtis/AP

Thanks to the success of the early warning system and aid agencies' early intervention, a famine has been avoided in North and West Africa. There has been rain, and crops are growing again.

However, the crisis is not over. And the public should not forget about the Sahel, a swath of eight countries that stretches from Senegal in the west to Chad in the east.

The Canadian government and ordinary citizens should continue to support humanitarian efforts to deliver food to the more than 19 million women, children and families who face food shortages in these countries, as well as in Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Gambia and northern Cameroon.

Story continues below advertisement

"Crops are growing but people are still going hungry because the harvest isn't yet in. Without continued assistance, the crops will be taken off early and that will compromise next year's season," said Jim Cornelius, executive director of Canadian Foodgrains Bank.

The resilience of many communities to drought has been eroded over the years as they already suffer from extreme poverty. Soil is poor-quality in many areas, and food prices are high. Millions of chronically malnourished children suffer from stunting.

The situation is made worse by the conflict in Mali. The takeover by Islamists in the northern part of the country has displaced more than 400,000 people, making aid delivery more challenging.

The Canadian government has contributed $57.5-million to help those affected by the food crisis. And Julian Fantino, the Minister of International Co-operation, deserves credit for his trip to the Sahel last month, along with Mr. Cornelius and several other Canadian aid groups. But Canadian citizens have only donated $1.8-million to Ottawa's matching fund – a drop in the bucket compared with the more than $30-million donated last year to help those affected by famine in East Africa.

Without a full-scale emergency, it is more difficult to convey a sense of urgency. But the Sahel needs not only food aid, but also support for development projects aimed at agricultural adaptation, protection of water sources and promotion of drought-resistant crops. Without agricultural sustainability in countries such as Burkina Faso and Mali, they will remain vulnerable, and the cycle of drought and food shortages is destined to be repeated.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter
To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies