2012 Sahel drought

2012 had a very severe drought in the Sahel, the semiarid region of Africa that lies between the Sahara and the savannas.[1] Countries included in this region are Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Sudan, and Eritrea.[2] Droughts in the Sahel occur quite often and tend to reduce the already meager water supply and stress the economies of developing countries in that region.[2]

The droughts are becoming increasingly more common, worse and more threatening due to global warming.[3] A possible explanation to the aridity trend is the supplements of an oceanography phenomenon called El Niño.[3] An idea is that evaporation is occurring at higher rate due to the change in Sea surface temperature, this then impacts the amount of rain the Sahel region receives[3] Another factor to keep into consideration is the response of our atmosphere to stimulants like greenhouse gases and carbon emissions.[3]

The Sahel region – a belt up to 1,000 km wide that spans Africa from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea

Valerie Amos, UN Humanitarian Chief during 2012, released a statement during the year stating that over 15 million people were malnourished in West Africa and the Sahel region.[4] The main contributor to the famine was the drought of Sahel, ensued from a combination of failing crops and El Niño.[3]

Mauritania and Chad recorded a loss in crop yield of over 50% when compared to 2011. Food reserves in the areas affected were very low and combined with corn prices soaring by 60-85% compared to averages over the last five years. In Chad alone this food crisis affected some 3.6 million people.[5] In places like Burkina Faso over 2.8 million were suffering from famine and in Senegal over 800,000 did not have enough to eat.[4]