ACTOR Damian Lewis has backed calls to help millions of children caught up in West Africa's food crisis.
The British-born star of Homeland and his family sponsor 11-year-old Marie in Burkina Faso, one of the countries affected, through Plan UK. Aid workers for the global children's charity warn 13 million people are at risk across the region as food supplies run out.
"It's hard to get a grip on the sheer scale of this crisis," says Damian. "What we do know is that in Burkina Faso alone, more than two million people are at risk.
"Poor rains have decimated the cereal crop on which families depend for meals - the last harvest only produced half the amount they'd normally expect.
"Sadly, things will get worse over the coming months as food stocks run low and families struggle to feed themselves."
Sponsorship helps fund projects to benefit entire communities, including schooling and preparing for droughts.
But the severity of the current food crisis, stretching thousands of miles from Senegal to Chad, is affecting even the best prepared.
"As ever, children are the most vulnerable. Marie's family has been hit hard by the poor harvest," says Damian.
"Child sponsorship helps with long-term projects to help families stave off hunger - like school feeding and rainwater harvesting schemes - but families need help now to survive."
Plan is also hoping to help children and their families in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Mali and Niger with grain and other emergency supplies.
"Our work so far has focused on providing food and supplies for school canteens to ensure children are getting the nutrients they need," says Plan's country director in Burkina Faso, Mark Wentling.
"But families' supplies are fast running out and they need help now to avert a catastrophe over the coming months."
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