Beyond humanitarian aid: the EU’s approach to alleviating food crisis in the Sahel at a time of global insecurity

'12 years of crises in the Sahel' series

Policy Study


About 20 percent of the African population is facing food insecurity and is undernourished, a number that is twice as high as in any other region of the world. In the region of Sahel, the main driver of food insecurity is the (military) conflict. The Covid-19 pandemic and the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine exacerbated the food crisis in Africa. Furthermore, climate-change predictions indicate that rising temperatures and more frequent extreme weather events will continue to hit the Sahel harder than other parts of the world. While in the past, the region’s populations have adapted to environmental difficulties in various ways (i.e. through seasonal migration: peaceful cooperation between farmers and herders), the confluence of evolving economic, political and social factors, combined with the impetus of environmental change, presents new risks.

Providing food assistance to victims of food crises and investing in sustainable solutions are at the centre of EU humanitarian action worldwide. In this timely analysis, Francesca Caruso analyses how the EU has historically addressed the food crisis in the Sahel and how it intended to do so through its 2021 strategy, the regional context and the humanitarian challenges the Union has faced in recent years, and the responses it has been able to provide to the Sahelian population in the light of the shifting global landscape.

The author concludes that faced with the growing challenges in implementing its development policies, the EU has nevertheless continued to support the region’s countries through humanitarian aid, and even increased the funds dedicated to food-safety emergencies. At the same time, in addition to its strong commitment to humanitarian support, the EU must look for effective solutions to address excessive public debt and climate change due to their significant impact on food insecurity in the region of the Sahel.

Fondation Jean-Jaurès
Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI)
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