Lutheran World Relief responds to critical food needs in West Africa’s Sahel

  • John Rivera
  • Jan 12, 2019

BALTIMORE, Jan. 17, 2019—Insufficient rainfall that led to failed harvests in 2017 and 2018, along with ongoing pockets of conflict and insecurity in West Africa, has caused spikes in the prices of staple cereals and left up to 2.5 million across the region without enough food to meet their daily needs.

Lutheran World Relief, with a $1.4 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is responding to this crisis with a two-year initiative that will provide immediate food assistance to the most vulnerable families while helping rural farmers to recover from losses to crops and herds and support their capacity to withstand future crises.

The Relief to Resilience in the Sahel (R2R) project will directly work with 8,230 smallholder farmers in agropastoral communities of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, impacting the well-being of more 57,000 community members.

Lutheran World Relief will support the distribution of food rations and will facilitate the purchase of cereals and animal fodder at subsidized prices for families who have sold most of their household assets to avoid severe hunger. To foster longer-term recovery, the R2R project will focus on increasing agricultural and animal production, income generation and savings promotion. Lutheran World Relief will also work to strengthen early warning systems that will help communities to access climate data and predict future droughts, helping them to better prepare for planting seasons.

The project will build on Lutheran World Relief’s current resilience-focused programming in the Sahel region, capitalizing on strengthened capacities of smallholder farmer organizations and unions that serve their members with access to new climate-smart technologies, financial services and collective marketing. It will also leverage Lutheran World Relief’s collaboration with the NASA Harvest initiative, coordinated by University of Maryland, to support the Government of Mali’s access to real time Earth Observation (EO) data to inform and improve crop monitoring and early warning systems management.

John Rivera, Jan 12, 2019 email