The government needs to do more in the Sahel to come to the assistance of the poor and the hungry, writes shadow international development minister Tony Cunningham MP, ahead of his Westminster Hall debate.
18 million people are currently affected by food shortages in seven countries. Food shortages have led to acute malnutrition, especially in children and babies. The events unfolding in the Sahel region are a stain on our conscience. It is unfathomable that in this age 18 million people are struggling to find food on a daily basis.
I am deeply concerned by our slow response and lack of funding.
The Sahel region is insecure and volatile. Frequent low rainfall and bad harvest have led to this area being prone to food shortage. To reduce the vulnerability of the community we need to act faster and invest in a long term strategy. Not just providing short term emergency relief, but a development strategy that includes food security.
Early warning systems are used in susceptible areas to reduce the suffering of the people and the cost of intervention. Yet, these early warning systems have not been used to full effect and our slow response is being felt. In the past six months, the number of people affected has grown by five million people.
To address the current struggles in the Sahel the international community must act swiftly to provide the desperately needed funding and invest in long term strategies to help fight the vulnerability. Britain has a long history of championing aid and protecting the world's vulnerable. We must continue this legacy and protect the people of Sahel.
I will be pressing the minister to answer what his strategy is towards the funding, and how he will assist the millions of people in need. I will ask the minister why funding has halved in the last two years despite the crisis worsening. I look forward to hearing his response.
Tony Cunningham has been the MP for Workington since 2001.