The growing threat of widespread famine in Africa’s Sahelian region is gaining broader international attention. In Mali, NEF’s all-local staff have transitioned from efforts to build long-term resilience and mobilized to meet the basic and immediate needs of communities, with a focus on addressing the real threat of famine. NEF is now providing critical supplies and field support so that farmers can plant crops to feed the hungry.
Despite the April coup led by Touareg rebels and increasing political instability, the Near East Foundation (NEF) has continued to operate in Mali, where it has worked to improve livelihoods for almost 30 years – through a series of catastrophic droughts, coups, and armed conflicts.
This time of year is known as the "hunger season" and it occurs annually, not just during drought. Families already malnourished and reduced to one meal a day are now forced to eat their seed stock to survive, consuming what little seed they have set aside for the coming agricultural season.
This year, the outlook is particularly dire – with an estimated 18 million people in the Sahel region of West Africa facing a food crisis.
Almost all of the communities where NEF works in the Mopti Region and the southern part of Timbuktu have been affected by the coup and last year's disastrous agricultural season. An additional stress is being posed by conflict in the North, which is displacing people and livestock toward the south. Along the border of the Mopti Region, people are finding refuge where they can with relatives.
To help avert a humanitarian crisis, NEF is working to deliver fast maturing, drought resistant seeds to as many farmers as possible so they can plant crops immediately. NEF is providing training and tools for planting and harvesting the fields, and for storing food.
A significant deficit in rainfall this past year – 40 percent less than the ten-year annual average – has accelerated drought conditions. Through an NEF training program, two hundred farmers have used simple techniques to harvest an estimated 90 tons of rice, while their neighbors produced little to nothing.
In order to help more people, NEF is expanding successful trainings – like the rice program – and teaching communities how to manage their limited water supplies so they can meet competing demands for household and agricultural needs.
Many charitable and government agencies, including NEF, have sustained infrastructure damage during the past few months of turmoil. As a result, NEF staff have abandoned the Douentza office and are in the process of establishing a new headquarters in Sevare.
Thank you for generously supporting this project, which is delivering immediate help in Mali where it is needed most during this difficult time.