A combination of conflict, drought and high grain prices has caused a food and nutrition crisis that is affecting millions of people across the Sahel region of Western Africa this year. Mali is one of the most affected countries: 3.4 million people are food insecure of which 1.46 million people will need emergency food assistance during the lean season (July to August), an increase of 166% compared to 2017.
Mali faces an extremely complex humanitarian emergency. The populations of Central and Northern Mali are exhausted by a succession of food crises in the last decade, which significantly weakened the livelihoods of the poorest families, and by the conflict that began with a rebellion and a coup in 2012, involving government forces, separatists groups and radical Islamist militias.
In Northern Mali, where insecurity has disrupted the economy, livelihoods and basic social services, over 1.5 million people depend on humanitarian aid. At least 61 400 people are internally displaced. The displaced people and the communities who host them need support, including food assistance, access to health care and water.
The last rainy season brought below average rainfall. This made pasture scarce which affected the livestock; those who depend on livestock to survive were forced to migrate to greener areas, where tensions with the communities living there escalated. Crops, too, were largely insufficient to cover the food needs and, as a result, 1.6 million people are in need of urgent food assistance. Low production has made prices go up, which means the poorest cannot afford to buy food. Close to 275 000 under five year old children are expected to suffer from life-threatening severe malnutrition.
The EU is a major contributor of relief assistance to Mali. Since the beginning of the crisis in 2012, the European Union’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) has allocated about €275 million in humanitarian aid to the country.
The European Union has significantly contributed every year to the treatment of severe acute malnutrition throughout the country. This has helped to drastically increase the number of children who receive life-saving care, which has almost doubled since 2012. The €76 million invested from 2011 to 2018 have translated, among other results, in over 600 000 severely malnourished children being in care over that period. EU humanitarian funding supports the health system to treat undernourished children and contributes to the purchase and supply of therapeutic food and essential medicines to cure them; the €1.5 million contribution per year ensuring direct treatment of more than 40 000 severely malnourished children every year.
Over 80% of EU humanitarian response contributes to the assistance for people in the northern and central regions affected by the conflict. EU humanitarian partners provide food assistance (both cash and in-kind), protection, free health care & nutrition, safe water, education and provision of multisector emergency assistance to shock affected populations. An estimated 70% of health centre in the north deliver essential services and drugs thanks to the support of humanitarian partners and EU humanitarian funds. EU humanitarian funding supports basic health and nutrition care to almost 1 million people.
The European Union’s humanitarian air service, ECHO flight serves secondary routes in the north, thus facilitating the movement of humanitarian workers and provisions to the most inaccessible areas. In 2017, ECHO flight transported 6 310 passengers and 3.4 MT of cargo in Mali in support to humanitarian assistance. The European Union also financially supports the UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS).
Assistance also goes to 138 000 Malians who have sought refuge in neighbouring countries such as Mauritania, Niger and Burkina Faso. Aid focuses on the provision of shelter, first need items, food rations, water and sanitation, protection, health and nutrition care.