The sound of hunger

Every year, during the hunger season, this sound becomes deafening in the Sahel, threatening 30 million people.

We work to make it stop. Before, during and after the hunger season.
Help us make it stop.


What is Seasonal Hunger?

Seasonal hunger is a period of time when food is scarce. It takes place every year in countries where the population depends on subsistence farming. Food reserves from the previous harvest are dwindling and a lack of products means prices go up.

Just before, water becomes scarce and families have problems with maintaining proper hygiene levels. This leads to an increase in diarrhoea-based illnesses that mean people are more vulnerable in terms of their health when dealing with what is to come. Seasonal hunger also coincides with the beginning of the rainy season, which increases the likelihood of stagnant water appearing, meaning the number of cases of malaria and other diseases shoots up. Sufferers are more vulnerable to malnutrition as they cannot retain and absorb nutrients.

And there are still five months to go before the next harvest. Five months of silent, predictable and avoidable hunger. A threat to more than 30 million of the Sahel’s people, in a region where 5 million children are already suffering from malnutrition.

Factors that make things worse

Seasonal hunger affects families that do not suffer from hunger at other times of year and increases the pressure on those who suffer regularly and the most vulnerable.

One in two people is poor in the Sahel. When crop reserves are lacking at market and prices go up, food becomes more unattainable for this 50% of the population. Those without land or livestock are even more exposed.

If they are also unable to access healthcare or water and sanitation services because they do not exist or they cannot pay for them, risks increase and solutions become more complicated.

Mauritania Mali Burkina Faso Niger Chad Nigeria Cameroon Senegal


In the Sahel region, 5 million children suffer from malnutrition. Seasonal hunger is increasing this figure every year, placing lives at risk and causing irreparable damage to survivors’ physical and cognitive development.

Recovery is slow and incomplete, which means that every year, as the new hunger season arrives, these children’s situation becomes more serious and is increasingly compromised.

Understanding Malnutrition

Malnutrition is an illness caused by hunger. It affects more than 200 million children worldwide and is related to half of childhood deaths. The most serious condition of all–severe acute malnutrition–kills 8500 children every day.

Understanding the causes that lead to malnutrition helps us prevent these avoidable deaths and avoid any future side-effects for survivors. We must analyse the different causes while also understanding how they connect and lead to hunger in each specific context.

Seasonal hunger happens during the months when aggravating causes and factors come together, leading to a hike in cases of malnutrition.

How we fight it

The taxes Europeans pay contribute to saving lives by becoming the European Union’s humanitarian budget, which is used to fund the relief work carried out by aid organisations. Every year, the EU’s humanitarian office (ECHO) covers around 40% of food aid needs in the Sahel.


Action Against Hunger

Alicia García +34 91 391 53 06 / Nuria Berro +34 91 771 16 63


European Commission

Daniel Puglisi +32 229 691 40 / Carlos Martín Ruiz de Gordejuela +32 229 653 22