UN agencies appeal for urgent support as food crisis grips northern Mali

Food and cooking oil are distributed to displaced people from northern Mali in a temporary shelter in Mopti. Photo: UNDP/Nicolas Meulders

23 September 2013 – The United Nations and its partners are appealing for immediate support for northern Mali, where three out of four households do not have enough to eat and are heavily dependent on food assistance.

An Emergency Food Security Assessment – conducted jointly by the Government of Mali, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP), and 15 other partners – estimates that there are around 1.3 million vulnerable people in the region who have not had a chance to recover following the recent conflict and last year’s food crisis.

“As internally displaced people and refugees begin to return to their home communities, the limited resources will be further strained and the number of people requiring assistance is likely to increase,” the agencies said in a joint press release.

They noted that the depletion of livestock in the last few months is having a serious impact on the food security and livelihoods of the agro-pastoral population.

“The combined effects of the food crisis and the security situation have left little room for recovery,” they stated. “Although the local economy is slowly recovering in the north and food security agencies are strengthening their presence, many farmers have been unable to purchase seeds and fertilizers and continue to require food assistance.”

WFP requires $67 million to continue to provide vital food assistance to the most vulnerable population and to respond to the nutritional needs of children and pregnant and lactating women.

Meanwhile, FAO needs $12 million to protect and restore the livelihoods of the most vulnerable households. Assistance provided until the end of the year will primarily include the provision of agricultural inputs, veterinary inputs for livestock and fishing gear for 420,000 vulnerable people, enabling them to produce food as early as December 2013.

The agencies said these combined efforts will help them and the Government to save lives and livelihoods by providing food assistance and agricultural productive means to the most vulnerable people in the northern regions of Timbuktu, Gao, Kidal and Mopti.

These areas were among the most affected by the fighting that broke out last year between Government forces and Tuareg rebels, after which radical Islamists seized control of the northern part of the country. The crisis uprooted hundreds of thousands of civilians and led to a dire humanitarian crisis.

A separate food assessment is currently being carried out in the south of the country.


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