Severe Drought Causes Acute Malnutrition Spike in Eastern Mali

Action Against Hunger urges immediate funding to contain crisis.
Action Against Hunger nutrition program in Mali, courtesy S. Vera

Gao, Eastern Mali—International humanitarian organization Action Against Hunger | ACF International has issued an appeal for urgent action to counter the alarming rates of acute malnutrition in Gao, an eastern region of Mali. Surveys carried out in the area reveal that 16% of children under five—more than 1,600 in total—have moderate or severe acute malnutrition, a proportion that exceeds the World Health Organization’s emergency threshold of 15%. Children with severe acute malnutrition face imminent starvation.

A protracted drought in eastern Mali has triggered this crisis, destroying crops and decimating cattle, a main source of income in the region. The drought has prolonged the dry season by two months, causing farmers to delay planting and harvesting staple crops like rice; this in turn has set off a dramatic rise in the price of basic foods. Action Against Hunger has also noted an increase in the number of families migrating further south in search of more fertile farmland.

The organization, with funding from the UK Department for International Development's Africa Humanitarian Relief Fund, has responded to the spike in acute malnutrition by ramping up its therapeutic nutrition programs to ensure sufficient supplies of ready-to-use foods for children with acute malnutrition. Action Against Hunger calls on the international community to contain and reverse these heightened malnutrition rates by immediately funding:

  • The distribution of ready-to-use foods to every child in the region between six and 36 months of age to treat all current cases and prevent future outbreaks; and
  • The provision of emergency food supplies for all families with at least one malnourished member to meet basic nutritional needs.

Action Against Hunger has worked in eastern Mali since 1996.