In 2011, sporadic rain led to a serious drop in agricultural production and pastoral resources in the Sahelian strip. In addition, the rise in prices and the different crises in the region increased pressure on the already weak resources, leading to a veritable food and nutritional crisis.

Due to the seriousness of the situation, international institutions have called for massive mobilisation. Kristalina Georgieva, the European Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs, who visited Chad and Niger last January, announced that an extra 30 million Euros would be made available for the region to contain the crisis. Catherine Bragg, the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator also pointed out the seriousness of the situation in a press release dated 14 February, asking donors to fund an emergency intervention. On 15 February, United Nations agencies, USAID and the European Commission published a joint declaration calling for an urgent and concerted intervention in the Sahelian Strip of West Africa.

The crisis needs to be urgently addressed, but so too does the fact that this is a recurring problem in the Sahel, where there have been similar situations for a number of decades. The response therefore needs to take into consideration both emergency needs and the longer term needs of the population simultaneously.

In order to take advantage of past experience in the different countries of the Sahelian strip, and reinforce the links with regional cluster meetings, Groupe URD organised a conference on Wednesday 21 March 2012 in N’Djamena, in connection with the Observatory of Aid Practice in Chad, funded by DG ECHO.

The conference brought together specialists in both the Sahel and food security in pastoral and agro-pastoral zones. The sharing of their experiences and exchanges with actors involved in the response to the crisis in Chad allowed lessons to be learned which are directly adapted to the context.