Emergency food assistance bring relief to Mali’s most vulnerable when they need it the most

In Mali and throughout the Sahel, the lean season−a planting period from June to September when food from the previous harvest runs out−places serious stress on families. Many struggle to feed their families, at times taking extreme measures to put food on the table. During the current lean season, nearly 30 percent of the population struggles to have enough food to eat. To help families better cope during this season, WFP provides large-scale food distributions in four regions in northern Mali. 

Photo: WFP/staff

Food distributions entail a daily ration of cereals, pulses, oil, vitamin and mineral enriched corn and soya flour, salt, or vouchers that families can use to buy the food listed above.

WFP seeks to provide assistance to the most vulnerable amongst those vulnerable, including people suffering from a disability or single-headed households.

Photo: IEDA Relief/Staff

Take Oumou (pictured below), a mother of four living in the region of Timbuktu, who lost an arm. She has received WFP food assistance since 2015 in the form of vouchers and she told members of the International Emergency and Development Aid (IEDA) Relief−an NGO partner assisting WFP to distribute food in Timbuktu−how this assistance has been helping her make ends meet.  

Photo: IEDA Relief/Staff

“Before receiving food assistance,” said Oumou, “it was extremely difficult to feed my family, even once a day.” Unable to participate in revenue creating activities, Oumou did all she could to feed her four children, but she has been faced with insurmountable hurdles.

These hurdles no longer exist for Oumou. With the vouchers, she can go to local markets to purchase food for her family and support the local economy at the same time.

Photo: IEDA Relief/Staff

Agasmane (pictured above), a 65-year-old man from Timbuktu region has been is paralyzed from the waist down. His situation makes the already difficult lean season that much more difficult for his family, including three children. And so, like Oumou, Agasmane has been receiving WFP food assistance since January 2015. Since receiving this assistance, Agasmane’s family can eat three times a day, even during the lean season, he says.

Photo: WFP/staff

Examples like Oumou and Agasmane show that with the support of our donors−particularly USAID, Canada, European Union/United Kingdom, Japan, United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (UN CERF) and Switzerland−even the most vulnerable of populations can get adequate, nutritious food in the toughest period, enabling Mali to reach the UN Sustainable Development Goal 2−to reach Zero Hunger−one person at a time.

Photo: WFP/Staff 

Note: In 2015, WFP began a three-year relief and recovery operation in Mali to address the immediate food security and nutrition needs of an average of  1.1 million vulnerable people per year. WFP plans to support 1.3 million vulnerable people in 2016. Activities include providing emergency food, supporting the creation and rehabilitation of livelihood assets, preventing and treating malnutrition, and school feeding which aims to improve access to education. 

Photo: WFP/staff

Text: Laura Morris, WFP Mali.