Tag Archives: Mali

Families in Mali Running Out of Food

An archive picture of a little girl receiving food assistance at one of the WFP projects around the city of Timbuktu in northern Mali. (WFP/Shannon Hayes)

Families in Mali are running out of food with some reportedly eating meals “only made of cooked leaves” according to the UN World Food Programme. Mali, located in West Africa’s Sahel region, is one of the countries caught in a severe food crisis.

The World Food Programme (WFP) says there are 4.6 million people at risk of hunger in Mali. Drought has struck the country but so too has internal strife with a military coup earlier this year followed by increased rebellion in the Northern part of the country.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says, “Mali was, by most indicators, on the right path until a cadre of soldiers seized power a little more than a month before national elections were scheduled to be held. By some estimates, this could set back Mali’s economic progress by nearly a decade. It certainly created a vacuum in the North in which rebellion and extremism have spread, threatening not only people’s lives and the treasures of the past, but the stability of the region.”

The conflict has displaced 174,000 people within Mali and they need humanitarian aid. Even more Malians have been displaced to neighboring countries including Burkina Faso and Mauritania.

UNHCR High Commissioner António Guterres says, “We have now 257,000 refugees from Mali who are going through an enormous level of suffering and deprivation. They had to cross the borders of very poor countries that have very dramatic food security problems: Niger, Mauritania and Burkina Faso.”

WFP says it needs 55 million dollars to fund its relief work for those displaced inside Mali and the surrounding countries.

Within Mali, WFP has reached over 100,000 children with nutritional help including the food Plumpy’Sup. This peanut paste keeps small children from suffering devastating physical and mental damage from malnutrition.

Katie Seaborne of Save the Children says the charity is providing nutritional support in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. In Burkina Faso, where child malnutrition rates have increased this year, Save the Children is using both Plumpy’Sup and Plumpy’Nut, the latter generally used to treat the most severe cases of malnutrition.

Throughout the entire Sahel region of Africa, WFP is reporting a shortage of $320 million dollars in funding to provide food aid.

Where you can donate to hunger relief in the Sahel:

Sahel Food Crisis Fund- World Food Programme

Mali Hunger Crisis Fund- Save the Children

West Africa/ Sahel Hunger Crisis Fund- Save the Children

Sahel Food Crisis Fund- Catholic Relief Services

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Mauritania: School Meals, Refugee Aid Lack Funding

WFP is providing aid to refugees who fled the conflict in Mali and have been arriving daily in Mauritania and other neighboring countries including Niger.WFP though is facing a funding shortage for its refugee relief mission.
Photo credit: WFP/Alan Mouton

As the hunger crisis deepens in eight countries of the Sahel region of Africa, humanitarian aid should be increasing. This is not the case though in parts of the drought-stricken area.

In Mauritania school meals for children have been reduced by the UN World Food Programme (WFP) due to low funding. WFP relies entirely on voluntary donations.

WFP’s March distribution of food to schools in Mauritania was supposed to provide 54 days of meals to the students. With the low funding WFP had to reduce the number of days children could receive meals from 54 to 40.

WFP runs the school feeding for around 150,000 students in nine rural areas where there is malnutrition and poverty. The meals are meant to keep the children in school especially at a time when drought and high prices have made it much harder for families to get food. WFP has struggled to find funding for the school meals program, leaving it constantly vulnerable to reduced rations.

No summer feeding program is available for the school children at present. So these children and their families will be headed into the peak period of the Sahel hunger crisis with one less source of food.

A program of summer take-home rations would provide a much-needed safety net for the 150,000 students, plus their families. This would be a crucial addition to ongoing WFP relief operations such as the provision of plumpy’sup, a special food to help combat potentially life threatening malnutrition in infants.

One of the areas in Mauritania where WFP provides school meals is called Hodh ech Chargui. There are 120,000 Mauritanians in this area, 37 percent of the population, who suffer from hunger.

The severe drought conditions is hard enough to cope with. There are even more challenges. Hodh ech Chargui is also hosting more than 63,000 refugees from a conflict in the neighboring country of Mali. WFP is facing an 86 percent shortage of funds to feed these refugees.

Mauritania, and other neighboring countries, are seeing a daily influx of refugees from Mali. The UN World Food Programme’s director Ertharin Cousin, who just visited the Sahel region, said she met a refugee who said, “everybody wants to leave Mali.” The stream of refugees from Mali is expected to continue. The funding for humanitarian aid has to start flowing more rapidly too.

The international community has to act now to fund all relief operations and be prepared for an increasing number of refugees. If the world acts now, it can help prevent a famine in the Sahel this summer.

Article first published as Mauritania: School Meals, Refugee Aid Lack Funding on Blogcritics.

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Sahel Food Crisis: An Interview with Aboubacar Guindo of WFP in Mali

A field of withered crops in the Mali’s Kayes region. Drought has ruined food supplies in the Sahel region of Africa, which includes the countries of Mali, Niger, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Senegal, and Chad. (WFP/Daouda Guirou)

Almost nine million people urgently need food assistance in the Sahel region of Africa following a severe drought. And time is running out to prevent a massive humanitarian disaster.

Josette Sheeran, the director of UN World Food Programme, says, “The needs of the millions affected by drought in the Sahel are enormous, and the time to act is now.”

Mali is one of the countries caught in the crisis. Mali is not only contending with drought but also conflict in the North between a rebel group and the government. The fighting is creating additional displacement and hunger.

WFP runs school feeding in Mali to save children from hunger and malnutrition and keep them in class. But will there be enough support to keep the program going during this food crisis? WFP depends on voluntary donations to fight hunger around the globe.

Aboubacar S. Guindo, a WFP school feeding officer, talks about where Mali’s program stands now as we head into critical months of this hunger emergency.

How many children are receiving WFP school meals in Mali? Is this a breakfast or lunch ration?

Actually, we are feeding 156,666 kids in 729 schools in the country. They do receive hot meals generally served at midday. In addition to that, the Government undertook under the national budget to cover an additional 651 schools (117.000 children) who are also benefiting from hot meals.

Are these schools in the areas affected by the drought conditions?

Yes, most of the schools are based in the area affected by the drought that results in communities’ increasing vulnerability. The government through the Early Warning System identified 159 communities that are the most affected by this crisis. To respond to this, WFP elaborated an Emergency Operation (EMOP) with a School Feeding component to avoid important drop-outs that schools used to face in this type of crisis. The EMOP will also include nutrition, food for work, and cash components.

In the affected communes all the assisted schools from both government and WFP programs will receive a complimentary meal made of enriched cereals (supercereal) as breakfast. We are planning to assist 150,000 kids under this initiative.

Does WFP intend to expand the program?

For now, the extension WFP will do concerns the coverage of the schools affected by the drought. We are more likely to reinforce government abilities to develop and implement a National SF programme.

Does WFP have enough resources to continue providing the school meals?

Funding is the biggest challenge. We have been obliged last year to reduce the numbers of meals in the northern region due to reductions in funding. In addition to food insecurity, WFP is assessing the needs of the internally displaced due to conflict in the north. This assessment may show in an increase in needs.

We hope to have more contributions from local and international donors in order to continue to provide our support to communities as well as the government so that hunger does no longer constitutes a barrier to the education of any children in Mali.

For more information please visit the World Food Programme.

Article first published as Sahel Food Crisis: An Interview with Aboubacar Guindo of WFP in Mali on Blogcritics.

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