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Can Twitter save the Sahel region from disaster? Of course not. But Twitter can raise awareness on a humanitarian crisis in the making that hasn't yet made headline news. UNICEF has launched a social media campaign that has received some attention from the news media including CNN. But most people still don't know what's going on in the Sahel and I am willing to bet that most people (outside of Africa) don't even know where the region is located. If you don't believe me, just poll your friends.
Here is a list of tweets that gave me a better understanding of what's going on in the region.
- It’s not in the news, but there’s a food crisis in the Sahel now. Children are in danger. Spread the word. http://unicefusa.org #SahelNOW
The power of celebrity! Selena Gomez's tweet was retweeted 6,932 times! For those who don't know who she is, Selena Gomez is an American actress and singer (who is dating Justin Bieber) but she's also a Unicef ambassador
In the #Sahel, at least 1 million#children are at risk of dying of severe #malnutrition. #SahelNOWPlease RT! [source: @UNICEF]
The most vulnerable in the #Sahel are #women & young #children http://ow.ly/i/y2gk via @UNICEF #SahelNOW [Source: https://twitter.com/#!/UN_Women]
Click on the link to find a short explanation of why the region is so vulnerable: “Successive droughts in 2005, 2010 and now 2012,combined with increasing insecurity in the region, are pushing families over the edge.”
Many natural #disasters strike instantly & without warning. The#Sahel crisis is different, it’s predictable & preventable. #SahelNOWRT!
What's the difference between a #foodcrisis and a #famine? A@UNICEF nutrition specialist explains. #SahelNOWhttp:http//ow.ly/a3OZy
Click on the link to listen to an interview of Dolores Rio, a Unicef nutrition specialist, who explains why famine is not the appropriate word to use when describing the current situation in the Sahel.
- RT @UNOCHA Updated infographic on the #Sahel food & nutrition crisis: http://t.co/urnmCBL3 Some 15.6 million people now affected #SahelNOW
Click on the link for a humanitarian snapshot of the crisis
- It costs around $100 to save a child from chronic #malnutrition. Find out ways to help here: http://t.co/fwp8TS3H #SahelNOW
[source: @UN, Shakira also tweeted the same information @Shakira]
- Why are people going hungry in the #Sahel? 8 questions answered: http://t.co/0OVTfMVt #SahelNOW
[source: World Food Programme]
Once again, if you take the time to click on the link you will find out:
1) Why are people going hungry in the Sahel?
2) Which countries have been hit by the drought?
3) What other factors have led to a food crisis in the Sahel?
4) How do small farmers survive when they don't grow enough food?
5) Are droughts common in the Sahel?
6) How is the situation in the Sahel different this year from droughts in the past?
7) If this crisis is different, how is the World Food Programme responding differently?
8) How can we prevent droughts in the Sahel from causing food crisis in the future?
See, I told you! One tweet is sometimes worth a thousand words... So start spreading the news #SahelNow
© UNICEF/NYHQ2010-1159/Riccardo Gangale