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European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations
© European Union, 2019 (photographer: Xaume OLLEROS)



Humanitarian needs in the Sahel continue to be on the rise due to the combined effect of increasingly violent conflicts, deep poverty, climate change, and unprecedented food insecurity and malnutrition.

In addition to the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19, weak health systems are increasingly strained, and humanitarian needs are growing.

In 2022, 33.8 million people in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Nigeria need assistance and protection – 7 million more than in 2020.

What are the needs?

Due to ongoing conflicts, more than 8.1 million people have fled their homes searching for safety and have limited access to basic services. Protection needs are increasing, with child protection and gender-based violence among the main concerns.

Hosting communities are overwhelmed by the influx of forcibly displaced people, which fuels inter-community tensions. Besides, violence and insecurity make it increasingly difficult for humanitarian workers to reach the people in need.

Basic services are disrupted by the ongoing violence. More than 10,000 schools remain closed across the Sahel countries. Without education, millions of children are at risk of exploitation and abuse.

Healthcare is equally affected, with 590 health centres still not functional due to insecurity just in the Central Sahel.

Due to the multiple crises affecting the Sahel region, an unprecedented 34.5 million people are facing food insecurity during the 2022 lean season (when food reserves run low). Up to 2.4 million children are at risk of severe acute malnutrition.

The situation could quickly deteriorate further in conflict-affected areas already grappling with food shortages and ever more difficult access to malnutrition treatment facilities.

In addition, high food prices due to COVID-19 and the Russian invasion of Ukraine are posing additional challenges.

Map of Sahel

How are we helping?

The EU is one of the largest donors of humanitarian aid to the Sahel. In 2022, EU humanitarian assistance to the Sahel region stands at €240 million, including a specific top up made by the end of 2021.

The EU provides aid to both displaced people and host communities and supports people affected by conflict and insecurity.

We help provided (i) shelter, (ii) emergency food and nutritional aid, (iii) access to health care and clean water, (iv) treatment for malnourished children, and (v) protection for the most vulnerable. In addition, our funding ensures safe access to education for the children affected by armed conflicts.

EU humanitarian funding also covers disaster risk reduction initiatives. They help countries better prepare for, and reduce the impact of, natural hazards related to climate, and their effects on food availability. 

Given the new challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, EU-funded humanitarian projects in the Sahel are adopting measures to help beneficiaries and staff keep safe while continuing to provide life-saving assistance to vulnerable communities.

Actions already focusing on the health sector will continue helping local health centers in providing access to health care and epidemics control and prevention.

In addition, the European Commission provided €100 million in humanitarian assistance to support the rollout of vaccination campaigns in countries in Africa with critical humanitarian needs and fragile health systems.

Some €10 million out of this funding will be supporting vaccination campaigns for the most vulnerable in West and Central Africa.

Last updated: 20/04/2022
Picture: European Union/ECHO, 2019 (photographe: Xaume OLLEROS)

Facts & figures

EU provides humanitarian support in the following Sahel countries: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Nigeria.

More than 8.1 million forcibly displaced people in these countries:

  • 1.4 million refugees (UNHCR)
  • 6.7 million internally displaced people (OCHA, IOM, EU humanitarian partners)

34.5 million people estimated to need emergency food assistance in 2021 (Cadre Harmonisé)
2.4 million children under 5 estimated to suffer from severe acute malnutrition in 20201 (SMART)

EU humanitarian funding:
€40 million in 2022 (including €15 million allocated in Dec. 2021)