A new report says over16 million people in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger need humanitarian aid as a result of climate change and conflict.
In a new report published on Monday, the International Rescue Committee said the number represents a 172% rise since 2016.
The central Sahel has witnessed instability since armed groups started an insurgency that has been fueled by intense climate change. The three countries are among the hardest hit and the violence has displaced over six million people.
Dry seasons are becoming longer in parts of the Sahel, and rainfall more intense and erratic, meaning droughts and floods are set to intensify, the report said.
Nearly three million people have been displaced, including two million just in Burkina Faso, the report said.
It blamed French colonial-era authorities, who "neglected" developing peripheral areas and introduced disruptive border controls, as well as post-independence governments.
"Political decisions dating from the French colonial rule through the early 2000s have marginalised peripheral areas of the Central Sahel states both economically and politically," it said.
"As a result, the populations of these regions face widespread poverty, are particularly dependent on sectors vulnerable to climate change and are more likely to be exposed to armed conflict."
The NGO called for immediate aid and investment in humanitarian access.