Droughts, floods, national and regional cereal and feed shortages, turbulent international and regional markets, political conflicts and crises … Successive food and nutritional crises in Sahelian countries since 2005 have increased the vulnerability of populations whose resources are often very limited, who live in a context of structural insecurity (poverty, weak institutions, lack of access to public services) and face longer-term challenges associated with demographic growth, urbanisation, climate disruption, etc. The situation is further complicated by the political instability and insecurity in the region, which makes it harder to find and implement sustainable solutions to these problems.
These structural and cyclical factors exacerbate the food and nutritional situation and undermine local livelihoods, forcing people to resort to damaging short-term coping mechanisms (indebtedness, distress sales of goods and livestock, meagre diets of poor quality food, interrupted schooling, migration, etc.) that drive them into long-term poverty traps.
Public policies need to follow certain principles to respond to these crises in a sustainable manner, by:
- Better managing food crises to avoid their short- and long-term consequences.
- Combining reactive approaches with preventive action to address all types of risk and factors of vulnerability at the individual and family level.
- Ensuring that crisis prevention and management take account of food, nutrition and other aspects of wellbeing (health, child care, etc.).
Taking a long-term view so that tensions between short-term objectives (such as treating acute malnutrition) and medium- to long-term concerns (sustainable approaches to crisis prevention) can be better managed.