How To Help The Sahel

07/02/2012 12:20 pm ET | Updated Jul 03, 2012

Amid drought, war, a food shortage and government corruption, Africa's Sahel region is on the verge of an alarming humanitarian crisis, as the people of this Sub-Saharan swath are forced to search anthills for crumbs and eat seeds instead of planting them.

This is the third drought to hit the Sahel in less than a decade, and last year, as the UN explains, the rains were extra sparse. Plus, bad harvests have caused food costs to rise and the conflict in Mali has driven thousands of refugees from their homes, straining resources in neighboring countries. Aid groups are seeking help in working to prevent hunger crises in the future by using methods such as educating residents on harvesting rainwater and growing crops that can withstand the elements.

In our Sahel series, we'll raise awareness of the impending crisis that is likely to affect as many as 18 million people in eight countries -- from Senegal in the West to the Sudan in the East -- by focusing on the places and faces in this challenged region.

The following organizations are doing their part to provide relief. Learn more at and read about how you can provide support below:

UNICEF aims to tackle the nutrition problem in Sahel by distributing supplements to 200,000 children. Learn more here.

The World Food Programme is providing irrigation, cash-for-work and food-for-work programs. This year, in Niger alone, the WFP plans to reach 3.8 million people with food and cash assistance. Learn more.

Save the Children is distributing relief supplies, along with household items and personal hygiene products. Learn more here.

Oxfam International is launching programs to provide clean water to people in Sahel, by rehabilitating wells and constructing water networks. Learn more here.

World Concern is focused on enabling people displaced by conflict to resettle in their home regions with improved skills in areas such as agriculture. Learn more here.

ONE's 3 million members are working to draw attention to the root causes of hunger and poverty, and asking specifically for Congress to create more flexibility in food aid procurement. Learn more here.

Lutheran World Relief's Resilience Plus program currently provides cash-for-work opportunities for people in some of the hardest-hit communities in Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso. Cash-for-work is an approach that puts money in people's hands to meet immediate needs, and contributes to local markets and local economies. Learn more here.

Mercy Corps is investing in long-term solutions such as providing agriculture, livestock and clean water. Learn more here.

Counterpart International has been working in the Zinder and Diffa regions of southeastern Niger for years focusing on nutrition, health and agriculture. Learn more here.

Handicap International is working on providing food for those who have gone without in the Sahel region. Learn more here.

Catholic Relief Services is helping refugees cope with this worsening emergency through food distributions and by offering water, sanitation and hygiene facilities. Learn more here.

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