Below-average rains began in late 2011 and resulted in drought conditions across the Sahel early in 2012. Based on poor vegetation growth, higher food prices, poor crop yields, and regional violence, there are predictions of widespread food insecurity throughout the region - with a particular focus on Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Chad. In areas where food insecurity and malnutrition are already chronic, there are predictions that food insecurity will grow as populations try to cope with the continuing drought conditions. The UN estimates over 15 million people are at risk.
In order to respond to this risk the platform sahelresponse.org has been launched. This site is a platform for sharing data in response to early warnings about increased food insecurity in the Sahel region of West Africa. The platform allows regional and international organizations to share and visualize their data describing the situation in the Sahel. By pulling together data sources into one site, the platform offers the ability to strengthen data sharing between partners and donors. A common operating picture is critical for a coordinated response, and this platform helps bring together critical datasets to inform the response. All datasets are offered in both raw data formats and processed map layers. Map layers are retrieved and integrated into the site using API calls from each partner. This allows the seamless data sharing between partners into a single site while keeping data ownership decentralized. Data and APIs are publicly available for download and use.