Natasha Stott Despoja in Burkina Faso with Oxfam to meet families affected by the West Africa food crisis

Africa, Emergencies, Media Releases, News article written on the 13 Aug 2012

Former leader of the Australian Democrats and South Australian senator Natasha Stott Despoja will travel to Burkina Faso in West Africa this week to meet with communities affected by the current food crisis.

Long-time Oxfam supporter Ms Stott Despoja will join with Oxfam Australia Executive Director Andrew Hewett to see the impact of the crisis, and how Oxfam is working to support some of the most vulnerable people in the world.

Across West Africa, more than 18 million people are affected by the crisis. More than one million children are at risk of severe malnutrition.

In Burkina Faso, more than one million people are affected by the food crisis, which has been caused by drought and rising food prices.

Ms Stott Despoja said she wanted to bring more attention to the situation and alert more people to the crisis.

“The situation in West Africa is dire. I find it distressing that in the developed world, little profile is given to this situation. I find it heartbreaking to hear stories of children going hungry.

“This trip should help shine a spotlight on the unfolding humanitarian emergency affecting millions of people in Burkina Faso, and more broadly across West Africa.”

Mr Hewett urged all Australians to get behind Oxfam Australia’s West Africa Food Crisis Appeal.

“The support of Australians will help to bring desperately needed food, water and cash support to people who are struggling to access enough food for themselves and their families.”

Ms Stott Despoja and Mr Hewett will travel to affected communities in Burkina Faso’s north, as well as to a refugee camp hosting thousands of people who have fled the conflict in neighbouring Mali.

Oxfam is aiming to reach about 290,000 people in Burkina Faso, with programs including cash-for-work activities, distributing tools to farmers, and building water pumps.

The aid agency’s emergency response includes support for refugees, such as building water points and latrines, distributing hygiene kits in schools, and running health promotion activities.

Oxfam is also working to address the underlying causes of the food crisis by investing in longer term programs and small scale agriculture, to ensure people have more secure access to food.

Notes to editors:

Natasha Stott Despoja and Andrew Hewett are available for interview from Burkina Faso on Wednesday 15th and Thursday 16th August.

To donate to Oxfam Australia’s West Africa Food Crisis Appeal go to, call 1800 034 034 or visit any Westpac branch.

For interviews or more information contact Oxfam Australia Media Coordinator Chee Chee Leung on 0400 732 795 or