Crisis in West Africa

What's happening?

A serious food crisis has developed in the Sahel region of West Africa that puts an estimated 18.7 million people at risk for hunger. In Mali, internal conflict has caused the displacement of 470,000 people, many of whom are women and children. Displaced people have fled to the capital and areas south, putting a strain on communities already struggling to cope with the on-going food crisis.

What caused this crisis?

This is the third major food crisis the West African Sahel has experienced in the past decade. The reasons are complex, but some contributing factors are:

  • Drought and erratic rains that prevent the production of crops
  • Rising food costs at a time when rural people are unable to earn income from crop production
  • Conflict and displacement, particularly in Mali, driving people out of their communities and into other struggling areas, further exacerbating the crisis

How is LWR responding?

LWR is responding to this multi-layered crisis through several key partnerships.  In Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali, we are carrying out a coordinated response funded by a generous $1.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and an additional $888,716 from other sources. The goals of this response are to:

  • Help vulnerable families earn income to support their families now
  • Aid in the production of crops
  • Help farmers adapt to changing weather patterns
  • Work to preserve soil and other natural resources that will help rural families grow food in the future

We plan to achieve these goals by:

  • Carrying out “cash-for-work” activities that help rural families earn income while preserving their agricultural resources
  • Reaching out to women farmers, who are particularly vulnerable during times of crisis
  • We’ve already worked with an international partner to distribute more than 225 tons of seeds and fertilizer to farmers in the Tahoua region of Niger, an area particularly hard hit. We're also working with farmers to improve their irrigation and grow vegetables to improve household nutrition.

We are also working to help people affected by the conflict in Mali. In partnership with the ACT Alliance, LWR is responding to the needs of displaced families in Mali to distribute insecticide-treated nets to protect against malaria infection as well as other critically needed items. And thanks to a $387,849 grant from the United States Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, LWR is working with local partner, the Lutheran World Federation – Department for World Service (LWF/DWS) to reach out to Malian families living in the Mbera refugee camp in Mauritania to:

  • Distribute weather resistant shelter kits to 2,000 of the most vulnerable refugees in the camp
  • Ensure adequate space planning to prevent overcrowdin
  • Promote sanitation through the construction of 250 latrines that will be used by 5,000 refugees

LWR and LWF/DWS are also distributing LWR Quilts, School Kits, Personal Care Kits, Baby Care Kits, Fabric Kits and soap to people in Mauritania. We have already distributed LWR Quilts and Kits to families in need in Mali and Burkina Faso.

You Can Help

There are many ways to help the people of West Africa with LWR.

  • Keep the people of West Africa lifted up in prayer and share this information with others.
  • Give a gift to LWR’s West Africa Drought & Food Crisis fund to help LWR continue responding to current and emerging needs in the region. LWR accepts gifts by phone, online at or by mailing a check or money order to: Lutheran World Relief, P.O. Box 17061, Baltimore, MD 21297-1601 USA.
  • Make LWR Quilts and Kits. LWR needs Quilts and Kits to respond to our brothers and sisters in need around the world. When you donate LWR Quilts and Kits you help us fill those needs even when emergencies like this one arise.

Have questions? We’d love to answer them at 800.597.5972. Thank you for supporting Lutheran World Relief. God bless you!

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