Photo: WFP/Shannon Hayes


The Situation

ALERT: A rise in armed conflict, deteriorating security, widespread poverty and warmer temperatures are threatening the lives of millions of people across the Central Sahel – comprised of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. Escalation violence in the region has displaced over 346,000 people from their homes in Mali. WFP is on the ground right now providing lifesaving food. See the full scale of the operation here.

Mali is a vast landlocked country in the heart of Africa’s Sahel region. It has successfully achieved the Millennium Development Goal of reducing hunger by 50 percent. At the same time, however, its social indicators remain among the lowest in the world. More than 50 percent of the population lives on less than $1.25 a day, and one in eight primary school-aged children do not attend school; less than 25 percent have some secondary education, of which only one-third is female.

Following a political coup in March 2012, the northern part of the country was occupied by non-state armed groups and effectively cut off from the south until a brief military intervention in January 2013. These events resulted in large-scale population displacement. A UN peacekeeping mission was deployed to the country in July 2013 and a new President was elected in August 2013, followed by peaceful legislative elections.

Following renewed violence led by factions in the north, a peace agreement was signed in June 2015. Security remains volatile and violence has increased in north and central Mali.

WFP's Work

WFP has been present in Mali since 1964.

WFP aims to save lives, promote stability and achieve zero hunger in vulnerable communities throughout the country. It maintains emergency response capacity, particularly in northern Mali, protects families and promotes women’s participation. In 2021, the UN agency aims to assist up to 1.9 million people through targeted distributions of food and cash, specialized nutritional products and supplementary feeding programs for children and pregnant and nursing women. 

WFP is currently implementing two innovative pilot nutrition programs. The Community Based Nutritional Health Programme in the Kayes region addresses the critical first 1,000 days of a child’s life. In addition, a pilot project with Médecins Sans Frontiers supports operational research on nutritional supplements ability to treat moderate acute malnutrition and prevent chronic malnutrition. In parallel, WFP is implementing a pilot project with the Aga Khan Foundation to measure the effectiveness of local nutrition supplements.

At the same time, as the situation allows, WFP is scaling up activities to rebuild livelihoods and strengthen the preparedness and response capacity of communities to future shocks. These programs are critical to safeguarding the gains made in previous years and ensuring the link between development and emergency operations. Safety net programs target poor households and improve food security through food-for-assets and school meals programs. The UN agency is also supporting all schools that reopened for the first time since the beginning of the crisis in February 2011.

The Purchase for Progress project supports the marketing capacities of 17 farmers’ organizations, with a strong gender component. The project is not only increasing smallholder farmers’ productivity and income but is also reducing food loss.

The UN Humanitarian Air Service—managed by WFP—in Mali provides services to four main airports in Bamako, Mopti, Timbuktu and Gao and serves secondary airstrips in Meneka. Flights to Kidal are suspended because the newly refurbished airstrip has been damaged by local protesters.