0 . MAJOR CHANGES SINCE PREVIOUS VERSION OF THE HIP
Following a thorough assessment of the proposals received, the proposed selection, based on compliance with our strategy and quality of proposals, implies a shift between the two budget lines. A reinforcement of the humanitarian budget line associated with a decrease of the food aid budget line is required. This is partly explained by the fact that a significant number of projects are multi-sectoral and can therefore not be considered under the food aid budget line.
Changes introduced with the HIP modification n°1 dated 07/06/2013
The level of food insecurity of the most vulnerable households in the Sahel is of great concern with the situation expected to deteriorate over the coming months as the lean season approaches and the spillover of the crisis in Mali and continuing instability in northern Nigeria. Prices of staple foods are already very high in northern Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso and are eroding the purchasing power of the poorest. Prices of millet in Niamey and Maradi are 34 and 53% above the five year average respectively. This is abnormal in a year of good production. This can be partly explained by the replenishment of the national reserves and by pressure on cereal markets from neighboring Nigeria whose markets play a critical role in supplying other markets across the region.
A recent evaluation in Nigeria has shown that the damage caused by severe flooding (July-October 2012) is more severe than initially expected, thus reducing the availability of food at regional level and limiting capacities to export food to neighboring Sahel countries. Cereal production in Nigeria is estimated to be 26% below the five year average. Considering that Nigeria is the main supplier of cereal in the West Africa region, this shortfall considerably reduces the positive impact of good harvests in most other Sahel countries. According to Dispositif Régional de Prévention et de Gestion des Crises Alimentaires (PREGEC) consolidated data (March 2013), cereal production in the region is only 1% above the five year average while the population keeps increasing and hence also the demand for cereal.
Niger and Chad are likely to bear the brunt of this disruption as they depend heavily on cereal imports from Nigeria. With operations to replenish national stocks and seasonal trends, prices are only expected to rise. This is of great concern as the poorest people in the Sahel are dependent on food purchases in local markets to survive. As well as struggling to access staple foods, the level of debt among the poorest - a carryover of the 2012 crisis - is reported to be particularly high. For example in Burkina Faso, it is estimated that 40% of households are highly indebted. It is also evident that the conflict in Mali, regular terrorist attacks in northern Nigeria and the overall climate of insecurity are reducing economic activities and therefore day labour opportunities in many parts of the region and further aggravating the socio-economic difficulties of the most vulnerable populations, already weakened by repeated food crisis.
According to available data and some estimates (Nigeria), more than 15 million of people are food insecure of which 7.6 million are in need of emergency food assistance. These figures could increase dramatically as a function of the evolution of the situation in northern Nigeria which needs to be monitored very closely.
The nutrition situation remains alarming across the region. Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) rates surpass emergency thresholds in the Sahel band of Chad, in four regions of Niger, in Sokoto State in Nigeria, in the south east of Mauritania and in north east of Senegal. In 2012, a record number of children (926,880 under five years of age) suffering from SAM were treated in nutrition therapeutic centres as a consequence of the considerable scale up in 2012 of humanitarian aid operations in the Sahel. This is the highest caseload of SAM children worldwide being treated.
For 2013, UNICEF is warning that 1.42 million children under five will probably suffer from severe acute malnutrition when 1.08 million children are targeted for treatment in nutrition therapeutic programmes. The scale up of such interventions remains a challenge in Mali, Senegal, Gambia, Burkina Faso, northern Nigeria and northern Cameroon.
In the first months of 2013, the number of SAM children treated in therapeutic centres is 20% above the number treated at the same time last year and 52% above the number of children treated in 2011 at the same period. In Burkina Faso and Mali, the increase of admissions (respectively 39% and 102%) can be explained by the scaling up of nutrition activities but in Niger where humanitarian agencies have been active for several years the increase is a signal of alarm.
Based on the above reported needs, DG ECHO has decided to allocate an additional 43 MEUR under this HIP to meet outstanding needs described above.