Cameroon Requests International Aid to Tackle Hunger

 


Cameroon has taken the unusual step to request international assistance to feed its people purportedly affected by drought, the Inter Press Agency (IPS) has reported.

In an article published Friday, the news agency said Cameroon was one of seven, out of eight, countries in the Sahel zone to declared an emergency due to the threat of hunger. The other countries are Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Nigeria. The Sahel is the arid zone between the Sahara desert in North Africa and the Savannas in the northern parts of West and Central Africa.

Senegal, the only Sahel country to have refrained from declaring an emergency, according to IPS, will hold presidential elections later this month. The news agency believes Senegal “refrained from announcing an emergency, largely for political reasons”.

Mauritania, the hardest hit country sounded desperate in its appeal for aid. “It’s a catastrophic year. The drought is severe. We need urgent intervention to prevent a famine,” Ahmed Weddady, national director in the Ministry of Water and Sanitation of Mauritania, is quoted as saying. The country has the world’s least amount of potable water, and suffered the worst harvest shortfall in the region. A third of its population already suffers severe food insecurity.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) met inRome on Wednesday to address the crisis and mobilise funds to assist affected countries, reported Voice of America (VOA). “At the peak of the lean season it is estimated that more than 10 million people will need assistance, and for WFP, we’ll be targeting about eight million of those people who will require $800 million to provide that assistance.”

VOA quoted Thomas Yanga, WFP regional director for the West Africa region, as saying. “At the peak of the lean season it is estimated that more than 10 million people will need assistance, and for WFP, we’ll be targeting about eight million of those people who will require $800 million to provide that assistance.”

Officials of the UN and several aid agencies have complained that governments in other parts of the world are not responding adequately to the crisis. They said only about half of sorely needed funds have been pledged so far by donor countries and organisations.

In Cameroon, the government has not yet launched a public information campaign about the food shortage. It is not yet clear whether there is indeed an emergency situation in the country, or officials are just taking advantage of the misfortune of other countries in the region to request international aid.

In the late 1980s, Cameroon sounded an alarm bell about a hunger crisis in the country, and aid agencies responded with food aid. But most of the aid was either put in the market to benefit officials or were simply swindled.