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Emergencies: prevention versus crisis

We’ve learned that responding to emergencies costs at least seven times more than preventing them. This is hugely important – particularly as there are food crises looming in the Sahel region of Africa.

Update: read my most recent article for the Irish Times about Sahel and the food crisis 

Concern Worldwide has developed strong evidence to suggest that responding early to hunger crises can help prevent full-scale emergencies and famine situations.

Depending on the nature of the crisis and its location, it can cost between seven and nine times less to take action earlier. 


This is based on evidence we have gathered from both slower-onset emergencies, such as last year’s east Africa crisis, and also to sudden natural disasters like the Haiti earthquake

Sharing with other charities

Concern staff spoke about this in Rome at an international symposium on hunger and nutrition. We hope other charities and the international community find our evidence useful.  

Impending hunger crisis

This comes at a time when Concern, and the UN itself, are warning of an impending food shortage crisis in Niger, Chad and other countries in the Sahel region of Africa. The EU has already doubled its humanitarian aid to this region in order to prevent a disaster developing.

Millions of people at risk

Early warning data indicates that across Niger, Mali, Mauritania and Burkina Faso, nearly 12 million people are at risk. In Chad, it is estimated that 13 out of 22 regions could be affected. 

This is taking place against the backdrop of rising food prices and lost incomes from remittances. Also, migrants from Niger and other parts of the Sahel have been forced to flee conflicts in Libya and Cote d’Ivoire.

Our charity work

Concern teams have been responding to this situation in Niger since last year. Read more about our charity work in the country