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Recent updates from Mercy Corps’ workers in Mali report that 1.4 million people still need immediate food assistance.
Throughout the Sahel region of West Africa, the drought that began in 2011 created crop failures and food instability. In Mali, the situation was worsened after rebels and radical Islamist militants seized control of towns in northern part of the country in 2012.
International agencies estimate that more than 350,000 people remain displaced due to the fighting in Mali and that nearly 175,000 Malians are living as refugees in neighboring countries.
This political instability further disrupted trade routes and caused food prices to skyrocket. Cities such as Gao were cut off from international efforts to help by fighting.
This spring, a French-led intervention again allowed groups like Mercy Corps to bring humanitarian aid and assistance to those who need it most.
Mercy Corps has made access to food and clean water their first priority. In northern Mali, more than 2,000 households headed by women received vouchers from Mercy Corps that allowed the women to shop for food in the local market.
This voucher system gives people the freedom to decide what it is they need most. “It’s empowering to individuals and bolsters the struggling local economy by bringing new business to market vendors,” wrote Liz Hummer in a recent Mercy Corps blog post.
Once immediate needs are met, Mercy Corps will transition to resilience-building initiatives such as trainings for financial management and business, food and health care for animals, and better herding practices.
GreaterGood.org supports Mercy Corps' efforts in the Sahel and other disaster-stricken regions through donations from The Hunger Site.
Photo of Mali market copyright Mercy Corps and used with permission.