News / Africa

Aid Agencies: Northern Mali Herders Face Food Insecurity

Cattle herder Adama Ouagalam tends to his animals where French troops are stationed fighting rebels, in Markala, Mali, January 2013.
Cattle herder Adama Ouagalam tends to his animals where French troops are stationed fighting rebels, in Markala, Mali, January 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Jennifer Lazuta
Despite the prospect of good harvests this year, aid agencies are once again warning of food insecurity in Africa’s Sahel region. They are particularly concerned about northern Mali, where most families earn their livings from livestock. Many of the animals have been stolen or have died since conflict erupted in the north early last year.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that there has been a “significant deterioration” in the food security situation in northern Mali since last year. Regional security issues, coupled with rising food prices and the loss of income-earning animals, have left more than 3.5 million people without enough to eat.

A recent joint survey by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization [FAO], the World Food Program [WFP] and the Malian government found that between 70 percent and 90 percent of the population will be in need of food aid until at least the end of December.

Complicating factors

"The situation in northern Mali is a matter of deep concern from our side because we know that there has been an accumulation of different crises," said Patrick David, deputy coordinator for the FAO’s Sub-Regional Emergency Operations and Rehabilitation Office in the Sahel. "As you know, the entire Sahel region was hit by a food crisis in 2012. On top of that, Mali faced insecurity and political problems, which led to a massive displacement of population and total disruption of [the] economy because it was a war zone."

David said that those families who depend on animals for their livelihoods have been particularly hard hit.

"The majority of the population is pastoralists in the north. And these people faced some problems during the conflict because some of them have been looted, their cattle has been looted," he said. "And they lost access to veterinary services for the animals and their transhumance ways have been disrupted as well. So it was difficult for them to access the grazing areas."

Al Hassan Cisse, the regional food security advocacy coordinator for aid agency Oxfam, said that late, erratic rains this year also have hurt the herders.

He said the prolonged period of drought this year has created a lot of concern for pastoralists. The growth of vegetation was delayed, he said, leaving animals with little or nothing to eat. Many watering holes ran dry. He said that while many of the watering holes now are beginning to fill up, many also remain empty, particularly in Gao.

The loss of even just one animal represents a huge economic loss to a herder. Oxfam says it can take at least three years to rebuild a small stock of sheep or goats, and as many as 10 years to rebuild a lost herd of cattle.

Dire need

Cisse said not only are herders struggling to keep their animals alive, but rising food prices coupled with declining animal prices have greatly hurt the herders’ ability to buy food for themselves and their families.

Oxfam and the FAO say they have been working to distribute food to herders, restock lost animals, provide veterinary services, refill empty watering holes and engage herders in cash-for-work programs to help ease their burdens.

As more internally displaced persons and Malian refugees who fled to neighboring countries begin to return, though, aid agencies say that the food security situation in northern Mali could get worse before it gets better.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid