West Africa: Strong Response to UN Fundraising Campaign Provides Food Aid for Thousands in Sahel

A strong response to a fundraising campaign will provide food aid for more than 15,000 mothers and children in the drought-stricken Sahel region over the next 100 days, the UN humanitarian food agency announced today.

In a news release, the World Food Programme (WFP) said that the distribution of fortified foods to the 15,000 or so mothers and children was made possible by a fundraising campaign in which most of the donations came in response to appeals sent by email, and which raised $750,000, exceeding expectations in the process.

"I'm so humbled by the overwhelming response of our online community," said WFP's Online Fundraising Manager, Sarah Borchers, adding that a campaign to support an operation like the one in the Sahel was a tough sell for many donors.

Africa's Sahel region, which stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea, and includes Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and parts Sudan, Cameroon and Nigeria, has been regularly afflicted by food insecurity - UN humanitarian agencies estimate that there are currently some 18 million people facing food insecurity in the region, due to a combination of drought, volatile food prices, as well as political instability in some areas.

According to WFP, individual donors contributed around $250,000 to the campaign, which ended last month. Around half of the contributions came from the United States, followed by Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany and Australia. In addition, for every dollar donated, the Dutch National Postcode Lottery, a WFP partner, donated two dollars.

"Raising funds to prevent a disaster can be much more difficult than if the disaster has already happened, but it's just as critical," Ms. Borchers said. "In the Sahel, we had an opportunity to reach mothers and children before hunger began taking an irreversible toll on their lives."

Donations topped the expectations of WFP campaigners, whose original goal was to provide meals for 12,500 mothers and children.

Along with its partners, WFP is scaling up its activities to reach some 10 million people in the region with food assistance over the coming months.

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