A landlocked Sahelian country, Mali is one of the least developed and most food insecure countries in the world. It is currently ranked 182 on the UN Human Development Index—6th lowest in the world.
Even at the best of times, food security is fragile in Mali. Vulnerable households often rely on farming to feed their families—a precarious situation when harvests are at the mercy of recurrent drought, floods and locusts.
A Fragile Recovery
Mali is currently experiencing a sustained but fragile recovery from the series of shocks that occurred over the past three years - a pastoral crisis in 2010, a drought in 2011 and the political and security crisis in 2012 and 2013.
According to a March 2014 analysis, at that time, more than 1.5 million people were currently in food insecurity in Mali. During the lean season (June through October), this number is expected to increase to 1.9 million people— meaning that 40% of people in the North of the country will have trouble finding their next meal.
The nutrition situation is worrying: this year, an estimated 660,000 children across the country are believed to be at risk of acute malnutrition.
In July 2013, a UN peacekeeping force arrived in Mali to support the political process and help to stabilize the country. Through a transparent electoral process, Mali elected a new government, which took power in mid-2013. The new government faces considerable challenges ahead, including finding a solution to the ongoing conflict in the North.
Despite continuing instability, families who fled their homes at the height of the crisis are beginning to return in large numbers, placing a huge strain on Malian communities, who must share already sparce resources.