April 2nd, 2012
10:28 PM ET

Social media campaign aims at fighting food crisis in Africa's Sahel

Vast portions of west and central Africa have become so dry that they can't support crops, livestock and the millions of people who live there.

The Sahel - a belt of arid land that stretches across Africa below the Sahara Desert - is a zone prone to cycles of drought, and eight countries are seeing the worst of it this time.

The United Nations estimates that more than 10 million people are in danger of starving to death. Aid workers on the ground say it's getting worse quickly.

In response, UNICEF is launching a 24-hour social media campaign on Tuesday to raise awareness about the food crisis in Africa.

Called #SahelNOW, the campaign asks users on Facebook, Twitter and other social media to post messages over the day Tuesday to boost awareness of the problem and the estimated 1 million children in danger.

What can you do? UNICEF asks the public to post videos about the problem, tweet out messages, use Facebook statuses to share and more in the #SahelNOW campaign. (Check out more here)

Aid workers on the ground say the situation is rapidly deteriorating.

"It's related to the lack of rains in 2011 and the drought," said David Gressly, UNICEF's regional director.

"People are trying to cope with that by selling their personal belongings - cattle, livestock," he said. "They're pulling children out of school to adapt to this."

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently announced the U.S. will earmark $120 million in emergency assistance for the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the Sahel.

More about the project: Facebook | Twitter | UNICEF web site

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Filed under: Africa • World
soundoff (161 Responses)
  1. KRIS


    April 3, 2012 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
    • JM

      "These people are still starving"...?

      I'm pretty sure these are new people who are starving.

      Imagine if it was your wife, kids, mom. Would you want someone like you to say what you just said or to help them?

      April 3, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ian, Russ

    Too bad that those $120 million will be robbed by African officials and other channels by the time they get there, and next year we will be reading a similar article about some other region.

    April 3, 2012 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  3. aloha33

    Seriously, I want to keep my SUV. The rest of the planet is burning due to climate change, but I get the attention of chicks due to my cool car, so who cares.

    April 3, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  4. Mary

    My question IS, what can be done to deal with this drought in future occurrences. Throwing money at the countries doesn't little when it will surely happen again.

    April 3, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joey

      one thing that would solve the problem, is for those people to less arid regions. only to create a new problem, as to where to house these people. there is no real solution to the problem, so throwing more money and resources at it won't solve it. it will only buy those people time. it's natures way of saying you shouldn't try and live in the desert, rlly.

      April 3, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  5. JM

    Throwing money at the country helps the people who are currently starving.

    Just give for heaven's sake. Imagine if it was your family who needed the help: your kids, grandkids.

    Long term, the countries need to be assisted in developing drought-resistant crops. Right now, they need to be fed...so they don't die.

    April 3, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • TwM

      Do not waste your money on Africa, first off pennies on the dollar actually go to the children and secondly lets deal with our own problems here in America.

      April 3, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      Of course emergency supplies will be given, that goes without saying.
      II would like to see the long-term solution discussed as well though. Do you mind?

      April 3, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • suesark

      You seem to be the only sane one posting today!

      April 3, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • the law

      then empty your bank account, and send them what you have.... we have a lot of issues here in US... also send them some birth control will ya...

      April 3, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Sanjay

    As the blood tide called Islam infiltrates further the natives are displaced by this religion of mutilated people. Jungles are replaces by this nomadic desert breed. The crime of humanity the destruction of nature cannot be forgotten.

    April 3, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mathieu

    Where is the humanity? we went to the moon but people still die by starvation

    April 3, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  8. choco attack

    Too bad china only cares about minerals. The West will feed these people while china drains their resources for bribes to tribal warlords. China is world leader at being selfish.

    April 3, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Bill Sherwood

    Please support the children of the Sahel now !

    April 3, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  10. wallstreetwednesdays

    Like Sam Kinison once said "We have deserts in America too, but we don't live in 'em !!!!!!!"

    April 3, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Christine Falk

    For those who say ignore the problem, focus on our problems here.. The crisis is too critical to ignore. We have a responsibility, as one of the wealthiest nation in the world, to use our resources to help countries who are facing devastating humanitarian issues. America faces many problems, but non as severe as what exists there. Yes the economy is in the toilet and we need to take care of our poor, but 10 million is too high of a number to ignore. If we face a massive national crisis, what kind of reaction would we want? Don't buy coffee today and donate..

    April 3, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  12. J. Johnson

    "Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

    The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’"

    Matthew 25:37-40

    April 3, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Karnak

    Feed and grow and become diseased and replicate and feed and grow and replicate

    April 3, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  14. the law


    April 3, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Completely missed the point..you are the fool.

      April 3, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Klien

      lol yeah he missed the point. right lol

      April 3, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lee

      Its not the simple....simple mind you have...simple post you made.

      April 3, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Andy

    Africa and Asia need to lower their fertility rate. Africa is producing 37 million births every year, and Asia 73 million.

    Problem in Africa is lack of contraception and personal responsibility. Fertility is 5 births/woman. If it came down to 1 birth/woman, there would be food and decent life for all Africans.

    Basic health, contraception (IUD), education are needed to solve this crisis, not just food Aid.

    April 3, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • nabiki

      I'd say it's more complicated than that, but yes, better access to health and contraceptives would certainly help.

      April 3, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
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