12 Sep 2016

Why are we there?

  • Endemic/Epidemic disease
  • Conflict/War
  • Healthcare exclusion

In 2012, some areas in the Sahel region of Africa will again face food shortages. The UN estimates that three million children under five are at risk of malnutrition.

This is a recurrent problem in the region, which is constantly afflicted with high malnutrition rates. Even in 'good years' hundreds of thousands of children are severely malnourished.

What MSF is doing?

This is an area of the world where we have long-running, large programmes reducing the high mortality rates among under fives (treatment and prevention of malnutrition and other 'killer diseases' including malaria).

In Niger alone, MSF admitted some 104,000 severely malnourished children to its clinics in 2011, and 150,000 in 2010.

As well as treating those who are already ill, we also take a preventative approach: distributing milk-based supplements to children to prevent malnutrition in Niger and Mali and vaccinating against killer diseases.

We are also ramping up our emergency response and sending teams of experts to the areas reportedly most affected in Niger, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Chad and Burkina Faso.

Violence and conflict

In some areas, including Mali and Niger, conflict and violence is making the situation even harder for people.

10,000 people have been forced to flee northern Mali and are currently seeking refuge in camps in Niger.

MSF is providing medical care in these camps.

How can you help?

All our work is currently being paid for from our general emergency funds and at present we have not launched a specific fundraising appeal.

It is these general emergency funds that allow us to act quickly, without waiting for specific donations to arrive.

If you would like to contribute towards this general appeal, please click HERE

Where is the Sahel?

The Sahelian belt is a semi-arid region running from Senegal to the Horn of Africa (see map), encompassing several countries.

Latest news from the Sahel region

Burkina Faso

MSF teams are distributing food and water, and are assessing healthcare needs of Malian refugees in Burkina Faso.


MSF is providing medical care in the Tillabéry region of Niger, where violence has forced 10,000 people to flee from neigbouring Mali.


Community health workers work with villagers to prevent and treat child malnutrition.


Since late January, some 57,000 Malians have entered the Mbera refugee camp in Mauritania. MSF are providing medical and logistic support to both local people and refugees


We have been supporting medical facilities in two of the three regions in northern Mali since April 2012 to ensure access to free medical care for the vulnerable.


Since Senegal’s Diourbel and Matam Regions have been deemed at-risk for outbreaks of childhood malnutrition, MSF teams are establishing a 15-bed inpatient nutrition centre in the town of Diourbel and supporting an existing centre in the Bambey district to treat severe cases. In the Matam Region, MSF teams will continue to monitor the situation for any increase in malnutrition.