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. Dave Andrews

    Here's how you solve more than one problem. Use hydroponics. I have a small 28 plant hydroponic system called "Living Towers." It generates as much food as my old 18 x 60 garden used to AND it takes only 1/10th of the water to produce the food. There are larger systems out there for larger populations. Rather than simply giving them "aid," give them the ability to help themselves. In a place like Africa, these things will produce year-round, will take only 1/10th the water and will produce more food than the same number of plants in diry and all in a tiny little footprint. When there's a lack of both food and water, this is by FAR the best possible option to resolve the situation.

    April 6, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Haha

    Send an endless supply of free condoms.

    April 7, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
  3. papia

    First: teach them how not to have so many children. They should opt fot one child policy.
    Second: Give them scientific education, not voodo or madrasa education.

    April 7, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Paul


    April 7, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Paul

    Yeah I don't get it why these people keep procreating where there is no food.

    April 7, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • leeintulsa

      @paul: the easy answer? what else is there to do..? let's send playing cards and dominoes..

      April 7, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Terry in Florida

    Don't worry Africa; the rest of the world won't be too far behind. then we can all starve and die off together.

    April 7, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Intrepid

    Seriously Folks. If the World would start sending Suitcases full of food so that in turn they could eat and then pack the meager belongings in the empty suitcase for immigration through out the World, this would end the Misery of Starvation. But it seems the world keeps putting it off by providing a meager handful of hope and donated food. You cannot WILL any God to make it rain so that Crops grow so that the Starving have food to eat and roofs to live under and therefore a path to education by way of inter village/community profit through sales of food. We simply delay death with meager yearly Handouts. Band aids for this phenom never work, the wound under the Band aid becomes infected and then the victim dies.

    April 8, 2012 at 12:06 am | Report abuse |
  8. CG

    The answers are already in Africa, costs about 35.00 per person, has lasted for over 25 years. For over 25 years the answer has been being slowly deployed to solve this very problem.
    Sand Dams, a very low tech community achieveable and maintainable solution has been working in parts of South eastern Kenya, Zimbabwea, and Ethiopia for over 25 years. Joshua Silu Mukusya's Utooni Development Org has worked with communities in Africa building 800 such installations. These communities faced this exact problem. Using local rock, Community labor, some site expertise, supplemental cement and rebar to develop these facilities. They trap the seasonal rains Yes, it rains, but its short termed and intense, in a sand and graval bar and perserve water for the people to use for sanitary drinking and irrigation.
    Groups that have also worked with this idea include, SASOL (Sahelian Solutions) Excellent Development,WaterAid.
    Some of the groups answer the complaint that nothing helps these situations. They stay on, help the local communities to terrace or Swale their land to help absorb the rains and curtail erosion. They assist in helping start local tree nurseries, now water is available. Also seed banks are established to help grow food. Tree varieties grow and survive initially with hand irrigation. They begin to shade the area, retaining humidity lowering tempatures and cushioning the thunderstorm downpours. The biotopes expand and becomes more capable of getting through a drought.
    Proably one of the best or saddest kept secrets around. Check out how you can really help people in the Sahel its cheap and has provided water for over 20 years through various droughts.
    The answer is already in Africa.

    April 9, 2012 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Carol

      How does one find out if their computer is being hacked? I've written a response twice and it just disappears

      April 12, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |

    The United Nations conference targeting the $1 billion-a-year illicit trade in small arms continued today with speakers from the African continent among those calling urgently for a global crack down on illegal arms dealers and tighter arms regulations - especially the activities of brokers - whose deadly wares often fell into the hands of non-State actors and fuelled conflict, contributed to poverty, and stalled development in their fragile countries.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • les

      hitler stalin and popot would love you the problem is over population

      April 14, 2012 at 12:26 am | Report abuse |
  10. justnfree

    Obviously what the heros of peace, democracy and freedom were doing is not working. Single Tomahawk missile could fees a million if those advertisement of charity funds are true. US fired 20,000 of them in Iraq in 2003. Hell fire missile maybe quarter million, few tens of thousands of those used in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
    Also looting oil from Nigeria and Angola by companies like Halliburton won't help.

    April 13, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
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