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The conflict in Mali has displaced more than 330,000 people and put huge pressure on vulnerable host communities. Having provided basic food commodities to the populations affected by both conflict and a food crisis, WFP is now entering a new phase of its assistance by providing financial support.
Kadidja Traore, 42, and Amadou Djitteye, 37, are among the thousands of displaced people from northern Mali now living in Bamako, the Malian capital. They are beneficiaries of the World Food Programme (WFP) cash transfer operation, financed by Germany and implemented by WFP’s NGO partner ACTED. This programme financially supports displaced people and their host families over a six-month period, to help them cover their food needs. A parallel ACTED programme provides a further contribution for other basic needs.
Kadidja fled her home in Gao when the crisis started. She sold the few animals she owned and took the long road towards Bamako, along with 15 members of her family. She found a host family in the capital, but after a while this family started asking money for the rent. Kadidja’s family could not afford to pay, so they moved to a smaller mud house where they could live for free. The living conditions were very bad and some of the children started having respiratory problems.
But this was not the only problem. Because she had no money to pay for transport, Kadidja was not always able to bring home the food from the WFP distribution center, located a dozen kilometers away.
“ACTED and WFP gave us enough food to survive,” said Kadidja. ”Now, with these cash transfers, we will be able to purchase and prepare our own food, and eventually start thinking about going back home.”
Amadou is from Menaka, in the north of the country, that has been occupied by armed groups for almost a year.
“We came under attack on the 17th of January 2013,” he said. “With my five children, we found a small place in an overcrowded truck going to Bamako. I left everything I had behind me, my home, and my car part business.”
Life is more difficult for Amadou in Bamako because the cost of living is so high. For him, financial assistance is vital, and the first step towards a brighter future.
“If security allows, I will go back to Menaka, to restart my business, and rebuild my life,” he says.
“Their situation remains extremely precarious,” explains Nicolas Robe, ACTED Country Director. “Financially speaking, some people are slightly falling under the emergency threshold. The crisis is slow, and invisible.”
The cash transfer programme was launched in Bamako in June 2013 and has now been extended to Mopti . WFP, with its implementing partner for the region Care Mali, is assisting over 20,000 IDPs and host families.
Later in the year, WFP hopes to assist people returning home to Timbuktu and Gao.
“This programme should enable families to purchase 2000 Kilocalories per day," said Sally Haydock, WFP Country Director in Mali. "In the meantime, it will allow them to protect their own revenues while giving them access to food and boosting the local markets.”