© WFP/Virgo Edgar Ngarbaroum
A landlocked, low-income country ranking 182nd out of 189 in the 2018 Human Development Index, Mali faces serious challenges in the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 2 on Zero Hunger and improved nutrition.
The cumulative effects of frequent drought, armed violence and widespread insecurity have contributed to a progressive deterioration of livelihoods in the country. Poverty is on the rise, affecting 44.9 percent of the people, and food insecurity levels are twice as high in families headed by women – a reflection of widespread gender inequalities.
Agriculture – mainly in the form of subsistence production – represents 80 percent of employment. However, land degradation, lack of fertilizers, post-harvest losses due to poor storage and processing capacity, and limited access to markets contribute to smallholder farmers suffering from higher-than-average poverty rates.
Malnutrition is a significant public health problem. In the past five years, an estimated 160,000 infant deaths – more than one third of the total – have been directly related to under-nutrition. Stunting affects 22.3 percent of children under 5, and vitamin and mineral deficiencies are endemic, with 81.7 percent of children under 5 and 51.4 percent of women of reproductive age suffering from anaemia. The Cost of Hunger study carried out in 2018 estimated the annual loss in economic productivity due to malnutrition at US$ 145 million, equivalent to a reduction of 4.06 percent in the country’s Gross Domestic Product.
Despite the signing of the Algiers Peace Accord in 2015 following the onset of conflict in 2012, instability and insecurity remain high and have spread to central Mali, where they have led to the closure of schools and health centres, further constraining access to basic social services and reinforcing the marginalization and isolation of the region. Insecurity has also considerably affected humanitarian operations in much of central and northern Mali.
As a result of conflict and instability, more than 3 million people have required humanitarian assistance every year since 2012. As of the end of 2018, the number of internally displaced people exceeded 120,000 and nearly 139,000 Malians remained as refugees in asylum countries.
The World Food Programme (WFP)’s work in Mali links emergency response to immediate needs of populations in distress with efforts to render vulnerable populations more resilient in the face of instability and climatic and socio-economic shocks. WFP is working with the Government of Mali to build a country-led shock-response capacity, leading up to an eventual full transfer of responsibilities to the Government.
What the World Food Programme is doing in Mali
Crisis responseWFP reaches shock and crisis-affected populations with food or cash emergency assistance to save lives and protect livelihoods. WFP responds to large-scale crises, mainly linked to climate and conflict, but also to seasonal shocks. In the context of the Sahel emergency operation in 2018, WFP Mali carried out emergency food and nutrition assistance to 700,000 people.
School feedingWFP Mali supports the Government’s National School Meal Programme by providing nutritious school meals and reinforcing the capacities of national counterparts. The provision of school meals improves access to education, enhancing learning and avoiding marginalization, especially for young girls. In 2018, WFP reached 163,000 schoolchildren with a daily nutritious meal.
NutritionWFP provides supplementary feeding and other nutrition support to several vulnerable groups, including underweight children suffering from chronic and moderate-to-acute malnutrition, and children under 5 who are acutely malnourished. WFP also provides nutrition assistance to pregnant women and nursing mothers, as well as supporting nutrition awareness activities at the community level.
ResilienceIn a country where humanitarian and development agendas increasingly intersect, WFP Mali is scaling-up long-term programmes that span across the nexus, complementing, and, over time, reducing the need for a humanitarian response. This integrated approach to resilience includes the creation of assets (roads, dams, and water ponds) alongside school feeding and nutrition activities in the same communities over a defined period of time.
Capacity strengtheningWFP leverages its experience, expertise and operational capacity to help shape and institutionalise the national efforts for achieving food and nutrition security in Mali. This involves technical support and building the capacity of national and local structures (including decentralized authorities). At the community level, WFP plays a key role in supporting the empowerment of those furthest behind and in enhancing inclusiveness, human rights and accountability, using a participatory planning process as an entry point.
LogisticsIn Mali, WFP manages the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS). Due to the volatile security situation as well as the vast distances and poor road conditions in central and northern Mali, air travel played a critical role in facilitating humanitarian access to vulnerable populations in 2018.