Heidi Alexander (Lewisham East, Labour)
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department is taking to increase the livelihood resilience of (a) rural populations and (b) smallholders in the Sahel.
Stephen O'Brien (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development; Eddisbury, Conservative)
My Department is currently preparing a Sahel Resilience Strategy. This was part of a commitment made in response to the Humanitarian Emergency Response Review (HERR) last year to champion the development of regional resilience plans where appropriate and with those best placed to do so (particularly in the multilateral system), starting with the Sahel and the Caribbean. The Department for International Development (DFID) does not have bilateral development programmes in the Sahel, but works through a regional and multilateral mechanism.
In terms of support for livelihoods resilience in the Sahel, the UK is already funding the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), which is promoting agricultural-led economic growth to reduce poverty. A number of Sahelian countries have prepared investment plans for CAADP and the programme has an important role to play building the resilience of smallholders. DFID is also a major funder of the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (PPCR), which includes Niger as one the priority countries. PPCR is supporting a $63 million programme in Niger to improve the resilience of the populations and production systems to climate change and variability, in order to increase national food security.
In addition to the aforementioned work on resilience, and in direct response to early warning signals of a looming food crisis in the region, my Department has announced an urgent package of support to help mitigate the crisis.
British aid will help treat 68,000 severely malnourished children in Niger, Chad and Mali and provide animal feed and vaccinations to 30,000 families to keep their livestock alive.
DFID officials will continue to monitor the situation closely and will be visiting the region later this month to further assess the situation.