Due to rainfall deficit and failed harvests in the past years, the Sahel region is undergoing an increasingly severe drought. Overall, 18 million people are affected in the region.

In Mauritania alone, the drought induced food crisis is affecting over 700,000 people, including 350,000 children under 18. Aid agencies are projecting that this year alone over 12,000 children could suffer from severe acute malnutrition and many are in danger of dying. According to UNICEF, 200,000 children in Mauritania are malnourished and poor nutrition is the underlying cause of half of all child mortality in the country.

Located in the semi-desertic Sahel region of West Africa, Mauritania is among the world's least developed food-deficit countries, ranked 159 out of 187 countries on the 2011 UNDP Human Development Index. With 42 percent of the population living below the poverty line and with vast desert areas and scarce water resources, Mauritania ranks amongst the poorest countries in the world.

Niger, also located in the Sahel, is in a critical situation with nearly half of its population of 16 million affected by the drought crisis. According to UNICEF, more than 5 million people are facing food shortages – approximately 35 per cent of the country’s entire population. UNICEF also estimates that nearly 394,000 children in Niger will need to be treated for severe acute malnutrition this year. Niger is ranked 186 out of 187 countries on the 2011 UNDP Development Index.
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