Two men carry a bag of millet at an MCC-supported food distribution in south-west Niger. Names are withheld for security reasons.
Photo by Emily Cain, CFGB

Two men carry a bag of millet at an MCC-supported food distribution in south-west Niger. Names are withheld for security reasons.

WINNIPEG, Man.—As the food and nutrition crisis continues to affect millions of people across the Sahel region of Western Africa, much needed food and longer term assistance is being provided by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) and its partner agencies.

To date, MCC has been entrusted with donations of almost $370,000; this includes contributions to MCC’s account in the Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB). Just over $250,000 of these gifts are eligible for the matching funds the Canadian government was setting aside during August and September.

“These resources demonstrate that Canadians see MCC as well positioned to respond to this food crisis,” says Bruce Guenther, director of MCC’s disaster response program.  “We are humbled and thankful for this generous support that allows us to meet the needs of people affected by hunger and malnutrition.”

Although farmers in some regions of the Sahel are anticipating a better harvest than last year, Guenther said the food crisis for millions of people is far from over and long term support is needed to help communities adapt to drought and other causes of hunger.

“Food and grain prices remain high,” says Guenther. “Conflict, loss of earnings, climate change, soil erosion and other environmental factors contribute to hunger and food insecurity.” 

MCC is supporting projects in Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali. Total value of MCC’s response is over $1 million. This includes matching Canadian government funds to MCC’s account in CFGB.

MCC works through local partners who understand the needs of their communities and use resources provided by MCC to develop effective programs.

In Burkina Faso, rations of food and grain assistance this past summer made it possible for 611 families to eat two meals a day. “This made it possible for farmers to continue working in their fields, instead of leaving their farms to work in the mines,” said Guenther.

Other MCC supported projects strengthen grain banks, support emergency food assistance and food-for-work and cash-for work programs.

Donations can be made online, by telephone (1-888-622-6337), or by a sending a cheque to your nearest MCC office. Donations should be designated “Sahel food crisis.”