Mali Crisis: WFP Responds to Emergency Food Needs
Trucks carrying WFP food speed through the Timbuktu region of northern Mali to the town of Gourma Rharous. WFP works with NGO partners such as Islamic Relief to make sure the food gets to those who need it most.
Needy families line up at a food distribution carried out in Timbuktu region for food including cereals, cooking oil, and Plumpy’sup, a ready-to-use nutrition product aimed at children under the age of five. Malnutrition rates are high in this part of northern Mali, so WFP is working with NGO partners to boost nutrition among mothers and children.
Two elderly women are happy to receive a sack of sorghum and a container of cooking oil. WFP has reached more than a quarter of a million people in need in the food-insecure region of northern Mali, which is recovering from a serious drought.
Porters wade waist-high in the waters of the River Niger, loading local boats, or pinasses to ship food supplies to the legendary city of Timbuktu in northern Mali. Each boat can carry 30 – 90 metric tons of food, and is a quick and safe alternative to road transport.
Small boats arrive in Mopti, central Mali, carrying displaced people to a WFP food distribution on the quayside. Many of them are fisher folk, who fled from fighting in the north and now live on the island of Djennedaga. But with the influx of people, fish stocks in the river are low and they receive assistance from WFP.
Five-year-old friends Mariama and Fatoumata outside their temporary tent home in Sevare, near Mopti, central Mali.
At this school, near the temporary camp at Sevare, there’s been an influx of 272 children from displaced families so WFP has introduced an emergency school feeding programme to provide youngsters with breakfast as well as their usual lunch. On the menu there’s porridge in the morning and couscous with chickpea sauce at midday.
Amadou Niangaly, Director of the local education authority, said the children from the north came without luggage, without schoolbooks. The school has had to construct a tent-like extension onto the classrooms to house the new students. “This is a real emergency,” he said.
In the capital, Bamako, many families are struggling to manage in rented accommodation. Nyanya Traore and her family sleep in a single room and not everyone has a mattress. She says one of her sons was traumatised by the events of the last year. Another son, Kalifa, died of malaria.
Ali Adjawiyakoye, 63, has taken in 8 family members, bringing his household to 16 people and has rented a bigger house in Bamako. They are three months in arrears with their rent and some have to sleep in the courtyard without mosquito nets. He has no regrets, though: “It is my obligation,” he says.
The authorities in Bamako are struggling to cope with the influx of displaced people. Ampiri Jacques Guinobo, the Mayor of the district of Sikoroni, says the needs are enormous. “When displaced people come, empty-handed with no resources, the host families too are clearly vulnerable. Without WFP help it would be a catastrophe in this locality.”
More than 200,000 people have fled from their homes since conflict erupted in northern Mali earlier this year, worsening an existing hunger crisis brought on by the Sahel drought. Despite the logistical challenges and insecurity, WFP is managing to get food to many of the displaced families.