Recurrent natural disasters, limited job opportunities and severe poverty contribute to chronic malnutrition and hunger in Mali, with civil conflict since 2012 exacerbating food insecurity and spurring population displacement in the north. As of late 2017, the Government of Mali (GoM) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees estimated that there were approximately 40,700 internally displaced persons within Mali and 134,100 Malian refugees residing in neighboring countries. Overall, nearly 44 percent of the population lives below the national poverty line, according to the World Bank. Preliminary results from a national nutrition survey, conducted by the GoM and UN agencies in mid-2017, found that almost 11 percent of children suffer from acute malnutrition. In Timbuktu and Gao regions, the malnutrition level exceeded 15 percent, the UN World Health Organization’s emergency threshold.
The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report that farmers are currently harvesting their crops across the country, with yields projected to be significantly higher than the five-year average. FEWS NET anticipates that most households in Mali will face Minimal (IPC 1) food insecurity through May 2018. However, food security conditions in some regions, including the Western Sahel, the Inner Niger Delta and pastoral areas of Timbuktu and Gao regions, will likely decline to Stressed (IPC 2) levels of food insecurity between March and May as cereal prices increase and households deplete their food stocks. A recent Cadre Harmonisé (CH) report—a tool used in West Africa for the classification and quantification of food insecurity—also projected that 795,000 Malians will likely face Crisis (Phase 3) or worse levels of food insecurity between June and August 2018, a period which includes pastoral and agricultural lean seasons.*
* The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) is a standardized tool that aims to classify the severity and magnitude of food insecurity. The IPC scale, comparable across countries, ranges from Minimal (IPC 1) to Famine (IPC 5). The CH, a similar tool used only in West Africa, has a separate scale ranging from Minimal (Phase 1) to Famine (Phase 5).
In Mali, USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP) works with the UN World Food Program (WFP) to respond to urgent food needs though general food distributions, blanket and targeted supplementary feeding programs and food-for-assets activities. FFP also facilitates WFP’s local and regional purchase of food and delivery of food vouchers to stimulate local production and markets. Through the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), FFP provides ready-to-use therapeutic food to treat severely malnourished children.
With support from FFP, non-governmental organization (NGO) partners provide cash transfers and food vouchers to vulnerable Malians to both improve household access to food and spur market recovery. These partners are also helping to restore community infrastructure and diversify livelihoods.
FFP partners with NGO CARE to implement a five-year, $45 million development program to benefit more than 300,000 individuals in the Mopti region. The project aims to strengthen food, nutrition and income security among poor households and improve their resilience to future shocks. Activities focus on health and nutrition promotion, prevention and treatment of malnutrition, livelihood diversification and increased access to safe drinking water and sanitation.