News / Africa

    Northern Mali Residents Facing Food Crisis

    Children get their food from leftovers at a restaurant in Gao, northern Mali, Feb. 8, 2013.
    Children get their food from leftovers at a restaurant in Gao, northern Mali, Feb. 8, 2013.
    Katarina Hoije

    At a food distribution station in Bamako, Salimatou Maiga offers advice to the other women in line, advising them to add sugar and milk to the powdered porridge mix to improve the taste for their hungry children.

    The West African nation's ongoing conflict, combined with the country’s lean season, is once again threatening to aggravate a food-scarcity situation for those still recovering from a brutal Islamist occupation.

    The World Food Program says more than 1.5 million people are currently food insecure in Mali’s north; one in five households in the three northern regions of Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu face extreme food shortages. 

    During the lean season, June through October, some 1.9 million people — 40 percent of northern Mali's population — will have trouble finding their next meal.

    “It’s only about 700,000 people who have received food assistance according to [the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs]," said Erin Weir, protection and advocacy advisor with the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC),adding that people are still suffering and the crisis is far from over.

    "If you consider that 1.5 million people are in urgent need and the number is over 3.6 million overall who have some level of food insecurity, the fraction of people who have been helped compared to the number in need is huge. There’s a massive gap there," he said. "We know that food insecurity also prompts displacement. People who are [otherwise] not inclined to leave will [do so] to find food and water ... the absolute basic needs of life, and currently we are not able to fulfill those.”

    Ongoing violence, displacement

    Despite international military intervention and an election to restore a working government, violence is continues in the north, triggering news rounds of mass displacement. In May, thousands of people in the Kidal region were forced to flee following clashes between rebels and government troops.

    To the south in Bandiagara, a district in the Mopti region hit hard by food scarcity, people have been forced to cut meals and sell items to survive.

    Last year, rains failed in many areas across Mali, while this year the rains, usually at their heaviest between June and September, arrived late.

    In the Timbuktu and Kidal regions, herders have warned that insufficient rains are making it difficult to find suitable pastures to sustain their livestock. Animals that used to sell for $500 are now in the market for a tenth of the price, according to one local non-governmental organization, and attacks on aid workers and supply trucks have disrupted food transport.

    The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) halted food distribution outside the northern towns of Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu following the attack and kidnapping of four of the organization’s staff members earlier this year.

    According to Abdi Mohamed Dirieh, a Bamako-based ICRC official, the decision to halt aid shipments in May has left those fleeing recent violence with little or no assistance, and that although the organization has been slowly scaling up operations, things are not yet back to where they need to be.

    While many of the displaced from northern Mali have gradually been returning since the ouster of Islamist insurgents in early 2013, many are still worried about their safety, says Weir of the NRC.

    "Some people returning home ... don’t feel comfortable going back to their communities," he said. "Concerns about retributions and perceptions of who they are and who they might have been affiliated with during the conflict are an issue of concern. As power shifts in different areas, different allegiances means that certain people might feel secure one minute and not the next and, again, that’s why we see new displacements when power shifts.”

    While the situation in the north remains difficult, life in Bamako is expensive, and many northerners have no choice but to return home says Weir.

    But in Gao, people like Salimatou Maiga can only hope for peace to return soon.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: eusebio manuel vestias from: Portugal
    August 30, 2014 7:30 AM
    freedoms the hunger and injustice in poor communities of Mali

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.