The food crisis in the Sahel will turn into a humanitarian emergency unless urgent action is taken, said the NGO Oxfam as it launched a $36.3m (£23m) emergency appeal for west Africa on Friday.
Levels of malnutrition in areas of Chad, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and northern Senegal are becoming dangerously high, warns the NGO, hovering between a rate of 10% and 15%. Some areas have exceeded 15%, which is considered the emergency threshold by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification.
Among the indicators used to determine famine conditions are when acute malnutrition rates exceed 30% and when recorded deaths are more than two per 10,000 people a day.
The governments of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger have already declared emergencies and called for international assistance.
According to figures published by the UN last week, more than 13 million people are at risk of hunger in the Sahel, with more than 10 million now considered food-insecure. More than 1 million children are at risk of severe malnutrition.
The situation in the region is being blamed on a mix of drought, high food prices and conflict.