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.
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

VOA Exclusive: Interview With Myanmar President Thein Sein

Thein Sein calls allegations that minority Muslim Rohingya are fleeing alleged torture in Rakhine state a media fabrication More

Video Better Protective Suit Sought for Ebola Caregivers

Current suit is uncomfortable, requires too many steps for removal, increasing chance of deadly contact with virus More

UN Rights Commission Investigates Eritrea

Three-member commission will start collecting first-hand information from victims and other witnesses in Switzerland and Italy next week 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.
Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concernsi
X
November 19, 2014 11:39 PM
The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.
Video

Video What Jon Stewart Learned About Iran From 'Rosewater'

Jon Stewart, host of the satirical news program "The Daily Show" talks with Saman Arbabi of Voice of America's Persian service about Stewart's directorial debut, "Rosewater."
Video

Video Lebanese Winemakers Thrive Despite War Next Door

In some of the most volatile parts of Lebanon, where a constant flow of refugees crosses the border from Syria, one industry continues to flourish against the odds. Lebanese winemakers say after surviving a brutal civil war in the 1970s and 80s, they can survive anything. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.
Video

Video China's Rise Closely Watched

China’s role as APEC host this week allowed a rare opportunity for Beijing to showcase its vision for the global economy and the region. But as China’s stature grows, so have tensions with other countries, including the United States. VOA’s Bill Ide in Beijing reports on how China’s rise as a global power is seen among Chinese and Americans.

All About America

AppleAndroid