Malian repatriated refugees drink water from a plastic container in the Timbuktu Region of Mali | PHOTO: EPA/NICOLAS REMENE
Malian repatriated refugees drink water from a plastic container in the Timbuktu Region of Mali | PHOTO: EPA/NICOLAS REMENE

The World Food Programme (WFP) has launched a seasonal support project for one million people including internally displaced persons, refugees, returnees, and vulnerable families experiencing food insecurity in Mali.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) launched on July 7 a large-scale food and nutrition plan to assist nearly one million people in the northern and central regions of Mali including Gao, Kidal, Ménaka, Mopti, Ségou, Taoudénit and Timbuktu.


In a statement, the organization explained that the assistance provided in support of the Government National Response Plan targets internally displaced persons, refugees, returnees, and vulnerable families from July to September -- the lean season period -- when stocks are low between harvests and families struggle to survive with little food. 

Families will receive vouchers to procure their preferred food items from local markets, the WFP said. 

Concern for deterioration of food safety 

''We are deeply concerned about the continued deterioration of the food security and nutrition situation in Mali'', said Mamadou Mbaye, WFP's country representative in Mali. 

''WFP will spare no effort in supporting the most vulnerable groups during the lean season.'' 

The cumulative effects of frequent droughts, armed conflict, intercommunal violence, widespread insecurity, population displacement and the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis have negatively affected the food and nutrition situation of an estimated 5 million people in Mali, the organization said. 

This includes 2.4 million men, women and children who are unable to meet their basic food and nutrition needs and require emergency food assistance according to the latest alerts by the government-led Early Warning System, the statement noted. 

The beneficiaries of the initiative 

The WFP explained that in particularly vulnerable regions (Gao, Menaka, Mopti and Timbuktu) the emergency food assistance will be complemented with nutrition services including supplementary feeding and advice on best feeding practices. 

Children under the age of two will be provided with fortified blended flour, while pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers will receive commodity vouchers and soap to meet their nutritional needs while applying basic hygiene practices, the organization said.

The nutrition component of the support will be implemented in collaboration with the organization's partners, experts from the health ministry and a large network of community health workers, with technical and financial support from UNICEF. 

Moreover, in line with the government's COVID-19 preventive measures, arrangements have been made to ensure the safety of staff, partners and beneficiaries. 

Hand-washing stations and temperature check points have been set up at food distribution sites. Distributions will be extended over several days to avoid on-site congestion, the WFP said.
 

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