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NGO welcomes Government support for Sahel food crisis

NDRF Press Release
14 March 2012

NGO welcomes Government decision on early support for Sahel (West Africa) food crisis

The NDRF (New Zealand NGO Disaster Relief Forum) welcomes the New Zealand Government’s decision to donate $1 million to the looming food crisis in the Sahel region of West Africa where funds are urgently needed to avert a large-scale humanitarian disaster.

The NZ Government has responded promptly to the global appeal for funds for the region. The decision to provide early funding to this impending crisis is very welcome indeed.

“Providing early support in lieu of a band-aid makes sense on many levels. Funds can be directed to projects which not only meet immediate needs, but also build resilience in local communities, and are more cost-effective as responding to large scale crises in full flow is expensive. And fewer lives will be lost as a result. This is a very welcome decision by the Government and we hope it will set a precedent for other governments to act in a similar manner,” said Ian McInnes, Chair of the NDRF.

“This funding builds on the growing support of the New Zealand public who, alongside NZ NGO’s own funds, have already contributed over $250,000 to appeals for the Sahel food crisis,” said Ian McInnes.

Drought has returned to the Sahel region of West Africa after an erratic and late 2011 rainy season, bringing hunger to millions of people for the third time in a decade. Inconsistent rains, poor harvests, severe food insecurity and high fuel costs have created a crisis situation with famine looming.

Slow onset drought crises such as this and the Horn of Africa crisis in 2011 are very often predicted early and accurately, however donor governments normally provide high level support only when famine has been declared and people are already dying in large numbers. This was the case with the Horn of Africa crisis in 2011 where an estimated 50,000 to 100,000 people lost their lives [dfid.gov.uk link (PDF)].

Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), visited the worst affected country, Niger, recently. Since then she has passionately advocated for early action and support, highlighting the huge shortfall in funding required. The UN notes that aid agencies have received only $135 million of the required $720 million needed to fund the humanitarian operations.

In New Zealand, donations for the Sahel food crisis are being accepted by ADRA, Caritas, cbm, Oxfam, TEARfund, UNICEF and World Vision.

-- The Non-Governmental Organisations Disaster Relief Forum (NDRF) is a forum of 16 New Zealand based NGOs with involvement in international humanitarian response and emergency management issues. Facilitated by the Council for International Development (CID), the aim of the NDRF is to provide a collective civil society voice and open forum for co-operation and shared learning for best practice in international humanitarian assistance. www.ndrf.org.nz


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