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Food distributed as hunger worsens in Mali

Food distributed as hunger worsens in Mali – 5 Apr 2012

A Tearfund partner is providing emergency food aid to people living around Timbuktu in Mali who are affected by the Sahel hunger crisis as well as in-country conflict. Supplies are being distributed by our partner TNT not only to locals in this remote area south of the Sahara but to people who have fled there following the recent Tuareg rebellion.

Sahel drought and crop failure

Like Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad, Mali is badly affected by food shortages following the partial failure of rains and subsequent poor crops last year. With rising food prices too, around 3 million Malians are going hungry and Unicef estimates that between 175,000 and 200,000 people are suffering severe acute malnutrition. Donate today

Mali coup

There has been criticism of the Malian government’s lack of response to the food crisis and there is now more uncertainty following last week’s coup when soldiers ousted President Amadou Toumani Toure from power. The military’s move was prompted by anger over the president’s handling of the Tuareg uprising, which erupted in late January.

Volatile

Around 195,000 people have been made homeless by the fighting between the Tuareg and Malian government forces, with some 100,000 Malians fleeing across the borders to Niger, Algeria, Mauritania and Burkina Faso. There are fears the conflict will exacerbate the hunger crisis as displaced people will not be able to return to their homes when the rains start in a few months’ time.

Every year Malians contend with a hunger gap, the period between when existing food stocks run out and the next harvest is ready. This normally runs from May to the first harvests in September, but this year, as in other very bad years, it started in February. Rains are expected in June and people tend to begin preparing the ground in May.

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Cath Candish, Tearfund Programme Coordinator for Mali, said, ‘Mali is facing a volatile and uncertain situation. The conflagration of a food crisis with a Tuareg rebellion can only leave the poorest and most vulnerable even more so.’

Meanwhile, further south from Timbuktu, Tearfund partner AEDM has been funding community groups to diversify their crops and to use more sustainable techniques to grow them. Another partner ODES is improving access to water as well as teaching better agricultural practice, while partner JEM is helping communities develop market gardening.

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