An unprecedented 2.1 million people in the Sahel region will not have access to enough food, with the Covid-19 pandemic likely to hamper aid operations, a projection by the World Food Programme (WFP) showed.
Eric Branckaert, the WFP Senior Regional Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping Officer, said on Thursday that the projection was a 77-per-cent increase, up from 680,000 food insecure people in 2019.
Food insecurity means that people lack access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food.
“It is a clear deterioration of the situation… it is unprecedented. We have not seen such numbers before.
“With conflict and displacement being the main reasons for the sharp increase, countries most affected will include Burkina Faso, Cameroon and Niger.
“Others are Chad, Mali, Sierra Leone and Liberia, especially during the lean season from June to September,” the UN official said.
He said aside the Covid-19 pandemic, a locust infestation that is currently moving from East Africa into the Sahel region, will make matters worse.
“However, the potential impact of Covid-19 and the locusts is not yet included in the 2.1 million,” the WFP official warned.
He added that the coronavirus outbreak would make it difficult for aid agencies to scale up operations and reach everyone in need.
“This is a crisis layered on top of a crisis, and the situation risks getting out of hand,” said WFP West Africa Director Chris Nikoi.