Mali’s President calls for solidarity as food crisis escalates across Sahel

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Mali’s President calls for solidarity as food crisis escalates across Sahel

Rome, 11 February 2020 – Against a backdrop of an escalating security crisis where 4.3 million women, men and children are at risk of increased food insecurity and starvation in Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, President of the Republic of Mali, launched an urgent call to the global community to combine efforts and show solidarity in order to eradicate hunger and poverty in the Sahel.

The Sahel region has seen a rise in violence in recent months, with attacks that have increased fivefold in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger since 2016, displacing millions and leaving many areas with severe food shortages.

Speaking at a press conference, Mali’s President told journalists that while farmers have experienced a bumper crop, security issues hamper food distribution. “We had 10 million tonne record harvest of cereals but it is still not enough,” he said. “It is a matter of reaching areas mired in conflict.”  

Speaking at the opening of the 43rd session of the Governing Council of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), under the theme “Investing in sustainable food system to end hunger by 2030”, the Malian President told Member States that “the terrorists” have severely impacted rural areas. Farmers and pastoralists are abandoning their fields and livestock in fear, and local food markets remain vacant, he said. 

Last week, UN agencies raised the alarm over millions of people who are currently facing hunger across Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger because of a rapidly escalating security crisis further aggravated by climate change. The three countries are experiencing a rise in the number of security incidents, including attacks by armed groups and community conflicts over limited resources because of climate change. 

In Mali, 60 per cent of the people live in rural areas where farming and agro-pastoralism are the main occupation, and poverty runs at 53 per cent. Agricultural production is expected to fall by about 17 per cent by 2050. Climate change is already hitting Mali and other Sahel countries hard, reducing arable land used to grow crops, pastures for herding animals and fish stocks, while exacerbating land conflicts and pushing people to migrate further south, or abroad. The President of Mali said he has seen strength in areas where agriculture has been fortified by long-term investments, such as the support given by IFAD. 

“Mali will never give up. Neither us nor the other countries of the Sahel,” he said.  “We are bleeding but we shall prevail with support of agencies like IFAD. IFAD has enabled a people faced with the worst kind of attacks to uphold their values and keep their dignity.” 

Today, IFAD called on its 177 Member States to help the Fund reach its goal of doubling its impact on the lives of the world’s most marginalized people by 2030 - with a proposed US$30 billion programme of work over the next 10 years. 

Worldwide, hunger has grown for the third year in a row. World leaders agreed in 2015 that eliminating hunger by 2030 would require an annual investment of more than $115 billion. With increased support from Member States, over the next decade IFAD will use its unique focus and expertise in designing and rolling-out rural investment projects targeting the world’s most vulnerable groups, including rural women, youth and indigenous peoples. 

“I know how much you already contribute to our country and we commend you for your constant support and applaud the success to support our youth, women, breeders and farmers,” said President Keïta. “Mali is among those who believe that the importance of IFAD's work deserves the allocation of resources commensurate with its lofty ambitions.”


IFAD invests in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience. Since 1978, we have provided US$22.4 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached an estimated 512 million people. IFAD is an international financial institution and a United Nations specialized agency based in Rome – the United Nations food and agriculture hub.

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David Florentin Paqui

Regional Communications Officer, East and Southern Africa, West and Central Africa