22 March 2012
South Africa is to give humanitarian assistance, including emergency food aid, to four drought-stricken countries in the Sahel region in North Africa, says International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.
Speaking after a ministerial meeting of the African Union’s Peace and Security Council in Bamako, Mali on Tuesday, Nkoana-Mashabane said South Africa was answering a call made by the four core Sahelian countries: Mali, Niger, Mauritania and Chad.
“As a short-term measure, emergency food and nutritional aid will be directly delivered to these sister countries as a matter of urgency,” Nkoana-Mashabane said. “South Africa is also working out a framework of implementation of further assistance in the medium term.”
Food, fertilizer, animal feed
South Africa will provide Niger with 103 500 tons of food grain, millet and sorghum and nutritional provisions for children and pregnant women, to cater for approximately 22 000 people.
The country will also provide 11 000 tons of animal feed for cattle and goats, 9-million doses of vaccine PPR for livestock, 877 tons of fertilizer, 5 000 litres of bio-pesticides, and 12 000 protection kits for workers applying pesticides.
In Mali, South Africa will provide 45 886 tons of millet and sorghum, dry seeds and potato seeds before the upcoming planting season, and nutritional care for babies aged 6 to 59 months, as well as children suffering from acute malnutrition.
South Africa is in consultation with Chad and Mauritania to assess their emergency humanitarian requirements.
Concern over Sahel region
The Sahel is an eco-climatic transition zone between the Sahara desert in the North and the Sudanian Savannas in the south. According to Wikipedia, it forms a belt up to 1 000 km wide spanning Africa from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea.
The Peace and Security Council expressed deep concern over the humanitarian crisis facing several countries in the Sahel region due to environmental degradation, climate change and food insecurity.
The challenges have been aggravated by developments in the Maghreb region, especially by the crisis in Libya, the influx of internally displaced persons, as well as the increase in transnational organised crime, terrorism and the proliferation of weapons.
The council called for a more comprehensive and better-coordinated approach in addressing the situation in the Sahel region.