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

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults 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.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid