8 things to know about hunger in Mali

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Over 158,000 people have fled from Mali to countries like Mauritania, where they are surviving on food assistance as they wait to return home. © WFP/Justin Smith

A year of conflict in the West African nation of Mali has brought hunger to hundreds of thousands of people. Drought and endemic poverty have also taken their toll. Here are 8 things to know about hunger in Mali and what WFP is doing to deliver food and hope to the people who live there.

  1. The food security and nutrition situation in northern Mali has deteriorated significantly following a conflict in the northern part of the county which has forced some 335,000 people from their homes while making it difficult to reach those who stayed behind with assistance.

  2. Over 80 percent of families in Mali live on what they can grow on small plots of land prone to droughts, flooding and locusts. Without irrigation and modern farming methods, they are at the mercy of a changing climate.

  3. Around 15 percent of children in Mali suffered from acute malnutrition, even before the crisis. More than one fifth of school-aged children do not attend school. Three quarters of them are girls.

  4. Some 69 percent of Mali’s population lives below the national poverty line. That’s one reason it’s ranked 175 out of 187 countries on the UNDP Human Development Index.

  5. WFP expects to assist around one million people this year in Mali. A little over half are families affected by the conflict, while the rest are people in the southern part of the country receiving nutritional support for their families while they work on community-building projects.

  6. WFP has been using small boats to send food up the Niger River to cities like Timbuktu and Gao in northern Mali. Since the beginning of the crisis, enough food has been sent this way to feed around 68,000 people for a month. Road transport is difficult and dangerous, but a WFP convoy has been able to cross the border from Niger carrying food for 6,500 school children in Gao.

  7. In addition to providing food to families displaced by the fighting, WFP will also begin giving them cash, which they can use to buy fresh meat and vegetables. That will give them the flexibility to choose what foods to buy while giving a much needed boost to the local economy.

  8. Pop duo Amadou and Mariam are both from Mali. They met at the Institute for the Young Blind in Bamako where they started performing together, before going on to become stars on the world music scene. They became Ambassadors in 2010 with a visit to quake-stricken Haiti where they filmed the video for the single “Labendela” about the fight against hunger.