A desperate and largely unknown humanitarian crisis is deteriorating in the Lake Chad Basin region of West Africa, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and leaving millions more in need of humanitarian assistance. Oxfam is providing life-saving support but help is urgently needed to prevent the crisis turning into a catastrophe.
Families in the Liben District of Ethiopia face shortages of everything – rain, pastureland, food. Since the drought combined with soaring food prices last year, entire communities are facing the hard pangs of hunger. In all Ethiopia, hunger regularly stalks almost eight million people.
And in West Africa and the Sahel, almost 10 million people face a food crisis following erratic rains that have caused poor harvests and water shortages. Such bad weather is becoming sadly common due to climate change.
"Drought is like fire," said one elder from Ethiopia. "It just destroyed every household."
Women hit the hardest
More women than men are hungry, yet women are a key part of the solution. They produce 60 to 80% of the food in developing countries, and play a crucial role in feeding their families and communities. But women food producers often lack fair access to land, water, markets, and credit, and are battling the impacts of climate change on their own.
What is on the menu at the G8/G20 Summits?
This week, on the other side of the world from the hungry people of Ethiopia and West Africa, the leaders of G8 and G20 countries will meet in Canada to discuss some of the world's most pressing issues – including how to address global hunger.
We live in a world that has the capacity to produce food for everyone – and yet, more than one billion people around the world are chronically under-nourished. That number is up from 800 million only two years ago. The dramatic increase in hunger in the last few years is the result of the spike in food prices in 2008 and the global financial crisis that followed swiftly behind.
Families have to make heartbreaking choices to put food on the table – choices like taking girls out of school, selling their only goat or forsaking health treatments. Every day, over 25,000 people die from hunger-related causes. This is simply unacceptable.
Promises, promises. Will world leaders fork out?
In 2000, world leaders promised to halve the number of people who suffer from hunger by 2015. Unless world leaders dramatically increase their efforts, we will not come close to reaching that goal.
At G8 and G20, we'll be expecting significant new money on the table. Because no one should have to go hungry.