Since 2012, Mercy Corps’ work in Mali has been dedicated to supporting vulnerable and at-risk Malian women, men and youth to cope with food security crises by strengthening their resilience, restoring peace and stability and addressing humanitarian and development structural challenges. From 2012 to 2018, Mercy Corps has implemented twenty-some programs for more than 250,000 people in five regions across Mali.
Located in West Africa, Mali has a population of 18.9 million people across 479,200 square miles, making it the eighth-largest country on the continent.
Mali has a rich and complex political history going back centuries, including the Malian and Songhai empires, colonial rule under France from 1892 to 1960, and a post-independence state that was long regarded as a model of stability in West Africa.
Since 2012, however, Mali has been embroiled in a complex security and political crisis. Despite the signing of a peace agreement in 2015 between pro-government forces and armed movements, the civilian population continues to suffer from the consequences of violence, contributing to the displacement of more than 500,000 people in the center and north.
Overall, 2018 was the deadliest year since the beginning of the post-2012 Malian crisis, with 795 people dying in incidents classified as violence against civilians — and this trend shows no sign of decreasing in 2019. The effects of this conflict on ordinary women, men and youth are far-reaching and multifaceted. With 80 percent of Mali’s population reliant on subsistence agriculture, displacement has devastated rural livelihoods and led to food insecurity.
According to the UN, about 3.2 million people, 30 percent of whom are in the Mopti region, are in need of humanitarian assistance. 2.7 million people — one out of every five people in Mali — are currently food insecure, and 660,000 children are at risk of acute malnutrition, including 160,000 in its severe form.
As the conflict continues to affect northern and central Mali, all aspects of day-to-day life are increasingly affected, including access to education. In the 2016 to 2017 academic year, 297 schools were closed due to insecurity, skyrocketing to 523 in February 2019.
Climate change, coupled with population growth and resource exploitation, has also caused conflict between communities. Rainfall patterns have changed, leading to devastating consequences for economic and food security. Farming and pastoralist families are competing for fewer resources.
Despite these challenges, the people of Mali are resilient and hopeful that a stronger, more stable future is coming. By providing early recovery support to agricultural and pastoral communities affected by conflict, working hand-in-hand with communities to restore livelihoods and mediate conflict, connecting individuals with economic opportunities, and empowering women, youth and communities and more, Mercy Corps is helping build a brighter tomorrow for everyone in Mali.
The Mali field team is made up of 69 members and is led by Country Director Thierno Samba Diallo. Out of all members, 64 are native to Mali and have an intimate understanding of the issues facing their homes and communities.
Our work covers a wide range of issues facing the people of Mali. Our teams work alongside local communities to rebuild livelihoods and address the root causes of food insecurity. We establish systems for high-yield and climate-smart crop production, and veterinary support and fodder for livestock to help pastoralists cope with the worst of the dry season.
Above the local level, we are helping women have a voice in politics by establishing female-led community and national peace advocacy groups. We are working toward more secure futures through programs educating children and youth on peacebuilding and problem-solving strategies.
At the core of Mercy Corps Mali’s approach is the belief that conflict prevention and long-term food security programming are two sides of the same coin. By supporting agriculture, pastoralism and other livelihoods, we reduce the issues that cause conflict. The most sustainable solutions to complex crises come via working hand-in-hand with local communities for the betterment of all.
Since 2012, our work in Mali has reached and empowered hundreds of thousands of people. In 2018, an estimated 75,000 people were directly affected by Mercy Corps through its interventions.
- Over the past 7 years, 98,000 food-insecure people have been assisted through various early recovery activities such as agricultural support, entrepreneurship and apprenticeship programs, business development support, and provision of veterinary services, among many others.
- During 2018 alone, Mercy Corps helped 41,000 people restore their agricultural productivity through with seed distribution, technical trainings, the rehabilitation of infrastructure rehabilitation and more.
- In 2018, 1,112 pastoralists also benefited from the provision of livestock fodder to help keep their animals alive through the dry season, distribution of goats, and animal care through community veterinarians.
- Under our emergency support, we provided financial assistance to 25,600 people to help them meet their basic needs and support their economic reintegration in their new living areas.
How to help
Mali: Building stronger communities through small businesses
Supporting entrepreneurs in Mali helps people become positive forces for change in their families and communities. Find out how.
Mali: Why are Mali’s youth taking up arms?
Our new report on Mali reveals that efforts to discourage youth from turning to violence must engage entire communities, and go beyond just focusing on young people themselves.
Mali: A better life grows from four tons of potatoes
After an extended period of drought and conflict, Fatoumata was having trouble making ends meet. Learn how we’re helping her harvest more food and provide for her family.
Mali, Niger, Nigeria: Why women are key to building resilience
Increasingly frequent droughts are the new reality in the Sahel. Our new research shows how gender equality helps communities survive these and other disasters.
Mali: Emergency funds are helping families survive year of shocks
What can a piece of paper do? How our voucher distributions have made an impact in the midst of prolonged drought and conflict in Mali.
Mali: Fighting cuts off food and humanitarian assistance
Mercy Corps team members in the Gao region report that food supplies are dwindling since the military offensive against rebel extremists began in January.
Mali: Families stock up on food
Mercy Corps teams are distributing emergency monthly vouchers to families in northern Mali that allow them to buy food on the local market. The money gets them a month's supply of the necessary basics they choose; most are stocking up on oil and rice.
Mali: Emergency food aid is just the start
Mercy Corps teams are now providing desperately needed assistance in Mali to those who are struggling to find enough to eat.
Mali, Niger: What you want to know about the Sahel hunger crisis
The hunger crisis in the Sahel is not an immediate emergency that gets splashed across the evening news. Instead, the tragic circumstances of drought and failed harvests have been building since the beginning of the year.
Mali, Niger: Expanding hunger relief efforts
Our teams are working on expanding desperately needed cash distribution to hungry families in Agadez, the largest city in northern Niger, as the country's food crisis deepens.