Food vouchers bring hope to displaced families in Mopti
How vouchers are helping internally displaced people to meet their basic needs in Mali
Mopti, the central Malian town, once so popular with international tourists that it was nicknamed “the Venice of Mali” has gradually become the epicenter of violence in the past few year. Instead of visitors who have come to see the unique architecture, art and culture, Mopti now hosts more than 85,000 people uprooted from the homes by insecurity and conflict.
A primary school at Sévaré, located about ten kilometers from Mopti, is an epitome of the new norm — with over 400 women, men and children, living in cramped classrooms.
“They burned the village and took the cattle, we lost everything,” says one of the displaced people. The extent of the attack is still visible on the few items they were able to take with them. There are partially burnt pans and kitchen equipment around.
“Sévaré is a city of security, a city of hope,” another man says me when asked why he is in this crowded school compound. “We were hoping for help when we arrived here, because we came empty-handed.”
Mali has been in turmoil since 2012. The past three years have seen an increase in instability in the central part of the country leading to a spike in the displacement and humanitarian needs.
Following a vulnerability assessment by the government of Mali and humanitarian partners, the United Nations World Food Programme provided food assistance in the form of vouchers equivalent to 38,500 XOF (58 EUR) per family in January. This allows those served to buy the food of their choice in local shops — offering flexibility, efficiency and contributing to stimulating the local economy.
“Yesterday, I bought rice, oil, milk and 25 kg of millet with my vouchers” says Kadidia, who is preparing tô, for her 5 children. Tô is a common dish in Mali prepared from millet (or sorghum) flour and usually served as a dough and eaten with a sauce. “Thanks to God and WFP, we have something to eat because my children are too young to work,” she adds.
After losing all their livelihoods, displaced persons still show incredible resilience and do not lack inventiveness to generate income for themselves. Some young people make hay, a few sell charcoal, while others offer their services as laborers.
One of the men, who is not as young as the others, is calm and undisturbed, leaning against the wall on which hangs a blackboard. He meticulously makes 2 to 3 meters of rope each day by recycling the WFP food bags previously containing food, that he sells for 300 Franc CFA (about half a dollar) each at the local market.
In the corridor that leads to the temporary dormitories filled with women and children, an18-year-old mother of three, Korka, is holding her youngest daughter in her arms. “I lost everything when I left the village, but the most important thing is to take care of my children.” she says with a smile.
Conflict is driving hunger and malnutrition. The results of the Cadre Harmonisé of March 2020 show a sharp deterioration in the food and nutrition security situation with 5 million people facing food insecurity, including 1.3 million who would barely know where their next meal will come from in the coming lean season (June to August).
In 2019, WFP assisted more than one million people in Mali, half of which through emergency food programs. These interventions have been possible thanks to the support of Belgium, Canada, Denmark, European Union, France, Germany, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Luxembourg, Mali, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.