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. Copyright: 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 475,000 people from their homes while making it difficult to reach those who stayed behind with assistance.
2. One household in five faces extreme food shortages in northern regions like Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal with a significant deterioration of household food consumption over the past weeks, according to a recent analysis by the humanitarian community.
Drought and conflict
The conflict in Mali came on top of drought, which struck across the Sahel region of Africa last year for the third time in a decade. Refugees from Mali fled into parts of Niger, Mauritania and Burkina Faso where food was already running scarce, placing an added to strain on drought-hit communities.
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 is transporting food to northern Mali using a cross-border operation from Niger as a complement to food arriving from the country's south. In March, WFP provided food assistance to some 125,700 people in northern Mali, in addition to 152,300 people from the region who've fled to other parts of the country.
7. In addition to providing food to families displaced by the fighting, WFP is also 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. WFP Ambassadors Amadou and Mariam are both from Mali. The pop duo first 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.