The crisis in the Sahel region hasn’t been totally out of the news, but it should definitely be getting more media attention.  In the countries that make up the Sahel region – Niger, Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Chad – nearly three times as many people are at risk of starvation as those affected by the famine in Somalia last year.  Severe acute malnutrition is increasing, especially among children under the age of 5 (Mercy Corps).

Mercy Corps posted a really great photo essay “Surviving the Sahel Hunger Crisis” (by Cassandra Nelson) last week about the work they are doing in the region to prevent a food crisis (last year’s crops failed due to insect infestation and dry conditions).  In addition to providing food aid, they are supporting a cash-for-work program so that people can afford to buy the food they would normally harvest themselves and preparing their fields for the next planting season.  A few examples provided in the essay include the creation of crescent-shaped ditches in the fields to contain and absorb rainwater instead of rainwater running off the land causing erosion and flooding, repairing wells, and creating community gardens.

AlJazeera English posted an interactive website called “The Sahel: Anatomy of a Drought” last week.  The website has information about each of the countries affected by the drought and political conditions that are contributing to the food crisis–and how the situation in Mali is a result of a combination of these factors.

Finally, the UN World Food Programme addressed eight questions about the drought and what the WFP is doing to provide aid to the affected region.

UN map of the Sahel Crisis (06/15/2012)