The hunger emergency in the Sahel region of Africa is fast escalating. Drought and high food prices are taking their toll among millions of already impoverished people across several nations.
Mauritania is one of the countries trapped in this crisis. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports, "Dry spells and poor rainfall distribution during the growing period (July to October) resulted in a sharp decline in cereal production. The 2011 cereal output was estimated...about 53 percent below last year and 39 percent below the previous five years average."
The ranks of the hungry in Mauritania are rapidly increasing. FAO says there could be over one million people now "food insecure" out of a population of three million. These are families that are already living in poverty and not able to cope with dramatic price increases.
At a time of low crop production and high food prices, the safety net of school meals for children becomes ever so valuable. However, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) is so low on funding that supplies are about to run out for the breakfast and lunch it has been providing to schoolchildren throughout Mauritania.
At a time when school feeding should be expanded, in Mauritania it is days away from coming to an end. WFP relies on voluntary donations from the international community.
Jacqueline Seeley, WFP information officer, provides us with more details in the following interview.
How many children are currently taking part in the WFP school feeding program in Mauritania?
Are the schools in areas impacted by the drought and high food prices?