In Mali, the first cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) were reported on 25 March 2020 in a context of growing insecurity and when the Government had just declared a food security and nutrition emergency, for which it requested support from its international partners especially in view of last year’s poor crop production results. Extreme weather events during the 2017/18 and 2018/19 campaigns led, among other things, to significant fodder shortages in the Sahelian strip in the Kayes region. These deficits were also recorded in Mauritania and Senegal, which have increased the pressure on fodder resources in western Sahel and specifically in Mali. In addition, increased insecurity and conflict by armed groups in the northern and central regions of the country have severely affected agricultural production.
The effects of the pandemic and government restrictions are being felt by most rural households during a key period (April - June) for the preparation of the agricultural campaign and pastoral transhumance. The measures in place are affecting the following: (i) seasonal migration; (ii) the availability of agricultural labour; (iii) access to pastoral resources; and (iv) access to agricultural inputs and tools. In this context, several households may not be able to engage in timely agricultural activities, while the Government and non-government actors may have difficulties in providing the usual support (i.e. the distribution of inputs to agropastoralists at the start of the season). Thanks to Belgium’s contribution of USD 250 000, FAO will support 1 270 vulnerable households in resuming their economic activities to improve their food security and nutrition and increase their income. Beneficiaries will receive seeds and tools to diversify and increase vegetable production, training on the adoption of good agricultural and nutritional practices, and livestock breeding kits. All COVID-19 prevention measures will be ensured.
By targeting both displaced and host populations, the project aims to improve social cohesion in a context of increased competition for limited resources. Priority will be given to households headed by women. FAO has recorded satisfactory results in the implementation of several projects funded by various resource partners, focused on strengthening resilience to climate change for improved food security and nutrition through the adoption of good agropastoral practices within the framework of sustainable land management. The project will complement these interventions and build on the lessons learned.