Nearly 60 million hungry people, almost half of them children, live in West and Central Africa.

The Joining Forces alliance, which brings together some of the main international NGOs working in Africa, has denounced this Sunday, World Food Day, that almost 60 million people affected by acute food insecurity live in the center and west of the continent, almost half of them children.

The alliance, which includes Save the Children, World Vision, SOS Children’s Villages, Terre des Hommes, Educo and Plan International, points out that both regions account for almost a quarter of those affected by the very serious food crisis that plagues the most disadvantaged areas of the planet.

Of this population, almost eight million people are directly threatened by famine and are in need of urgent measures, the alliance adds.

NGOs estimate that more than half of the households affected by acute food insecurity are in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria. Another 12.7 million affected people are in the central Sahel, which includes Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. Nigeria, in particular, remains one of the countries of greatest global concern for the period October 2022 to January 2023 and for which immediate assistance is needed.

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“2022 has been one of the most difficult years for children and their families in West and Central Africa, and this year’s lean season has been one of the worst in 10 years. Hardest hit have been people living in conflict-affected regions. Malnutrition rates among children under five have soared,” laments Save the Children’s director for both African regions, Philippe Adapoe.

Save the Children reports a multi-pronged crisis that combines armed conflict, the long-term consequences of the restriction of activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and now the steadily rising costs of staple foods, fuel and fertilizer.

Added to this are the effects of climate change, with floods damaging crops, or reduced cereal and vegetable production due to reduced and scarce rainfall.

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Carla Denizard, regional head of World Vision in West Africa, calls for the protection of children. “With schools opening in most countries in the region, it is important to ensure that there is enough healthy food for children to be healthy and enjoy their right to go to school and stay in school.”

The partnership thus calls on local decision-makers and the international community to strengthen national food security systems, increase equitable, inclusive and child-sensitive social protection systems, and prioritize cash transfers to better support acutely food insecure families.

It also calls for developing and expanding nutrition-sensitive social protection programs that target the most at-risk households, as well as ensuring that the most vulnerable children and their families have access to affordable nutritious food and adequate health services, including pregnant and lactating women, as well as infants and children under five years of age.

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