MRDF partners are continuing to help rural communities in Mali to tackle poverty and food shortages, despite continuing political and military tensions in the country.
In recent weeks, Tuareg separatists have gained control of much of the north of the country, while violence has broken out in areas of the Malian capital, Bamako. Forces under control of the interim government have clashed with soldiers still loyal to the ex-President Toure, who was ousted in a military coup on 22 March. Coup instigator Captain Amadou Sanogo stepped aside on 12 April, but his military council still wields considerable power, and holds three cabinet posts in Mali's current interim government.
The tensions come at a time of serious food shortages in the Sahel region. A lack of rain has caused grain production to fall by 41% in Mali this year and 3.5 million people live in areas where there is not enough food. At the same time the price of millet, a staple food in Mali has risen by 69% in the last year. According to the World Food Programme, one in ten children in Mali are currently malnourished.
MRDF has three partners in Mali, running health, agriculture and income generation projects which seek to make a difference in what are some of the most disadvantaged communities in the world. All of the projects are located in rural areas in the centre and south of the country, so they have remained relatively unaffected by the political situation, and much of the field work has continued as planned. However, the recent violent clashes between loyalists and rebel soldiers in Bamako have made it increasingly difficult for staff to operate in the capital, with travel and access to banking facilities being limited.
MRDF’s partner GRAFE, which operates in the central Ségou region, is also concerned that the arrival of displaced people fleeing the insurgent-occupied North is putting additional pressure on communities that already face food insecurity.
Over the last two years, MRDF has supported its Malian partners to respond to ongoing drought and food shortages, as well as their long-term development projects. Funds from its Africa Food Crisis Appeal supported the provision of food relief and were also invested in seeds banks, water pumps and training in vegetable growing. These measures are providing some communities with a degree of resilience in the current situation. This project is the focus for MRDF’s Harvest Appeal 2012