Mike Wooldridge - BBC World Affairs Correspondent
Paul Melly - Journalist and Associate Fellow, Africa programme, Chatham House
Simon Levine - Research Fellow, Humanitarian Policy Group, ODI
Nick Martlew - Senior Conflict and Humanitarian Advisor, Save the Children UK
Camilla Knox-Peebles - Head of Emergency Food Security and Livelihoods Oxfam GB
David Gressly - UN Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel
Jean-Nicolas Marti- Head of the ICRC delegation for Mali and Niger
Ever since the first warnings of drought and poor harvests in the Sahel emerged in late 2011, vulnerable communities in the region have been threatened by a looming food crisis.
Now, an estimated 18.7 million people in 9 countries within the Sahel region have been affected and over one million children are at risk of severe malnutrition. The crisis has been compounded by the continuing conflict in Mali which has displaced several thousand people and hindered secure access to others in need of humanitarian assistance, and severe flooding in Niger which has killed over 80 people and displaced over 500,000 more. To make matters worse, the most serious desert locust infestation since 2005 is threatening the livelihoods of up to 50 million people in the region.
While the alarm was raised early and host governments, donors, the UN and NGOs are responding to the current humanitarian emergency with funding and support, this is the third food crisis in the region since 2005, and unlikely to be the last.
As a Hausa proverb says: ‘if the drumbeat changes, the dance must also change’. In addition to providing humanitarian assistance, what can and should be done to address the root causes of the crisis and to make affected communities more resilient to future ones? What does ‘resilience’ mean in the context of the Sahel and how it can be translated into action on the ground?
This event launches the 55th edition of Humanitarian Exchange, the theme of which is the crisis in the Sahel. Drawing on the articles in this issue as well as their own experience and research speakers in Dakar, Ghana, and London will reflect on and debate these issues as well as respond to questions and comments from our audiences in the room and online.