Malnutrition in Mali

A land-locked country in West Africa, Mali has an economy that is primarily based on agriculture. The main crops produced are millet, rice and corn. However, this country-wide reliance on agriculture depends on the weather, which often includes unpredictable rainfall patterns. Inconsistent agricultural production, high population growth and increasing desertification are some of the causal factors that have resulted in the country’s ranking 182nd out of 189 countries in the world on the Human Development Index. Malnutrition also happens to be one of the leading causes of death in Mali. Because of this, many NGOs and governments around the world have funded programs in Mali to help improve living conditions and decrease malnutrition.

Political Instability

Aside from agricultural issues, political instability has also led to severe malnutrition in Mali. Recently, USAID predicted that an additional 868,000 people will require urgent food assistance in 2019. Of these 868,000, 160,000 will be children. Children who are malnourished are at high risk of growth deficiencies; as such, many children in Mali are severely underdeveloped with regards to their height and weight.

Current and Past Progress

However, some progress has been made. From 2006 to 2013, thinness among women of reproductive age and adolescent women decreased by 2 and 4 percent, respectively. Additionally, the prevalence of underweight children (under the age of 5), decreased from 14 percent to 13 percent. Although this may not seem like a significant statistical improvement, 1 percent of the population of children under 5 years old (3.33 million) represents 33,300 children, indicating that progress has been made towards reducing malnutrition in Mali.

In 2010, then-U.S. President Barack Obama started the Feed the Future initiative, a U.S. funded foreign assistance program that targets specific countries to alleviate global poverty and improve food security. As one of 12 countries selected to receive aid, Mali continues to benefit from the implementation of environmental and nutritional plans. The country has begun to invest in fertilizers in farms across the nation to improve the quality of crop production, and an additional 4.3 million trees have been planted around the country to help make farms more resilient. Additionally, the initiative has encouraged farmers to plant oilseeds, which they can sell for people to use as biofuel and soap. As a result of all of this, the Feed the Future initiative has provided nutritional and humanitarian assistance to millions of individuals in Mali.

Other USAID programs have proven to be of great help in Mali as well, such as the Food for Peace program which has provided $28.5 million of emergency food assistance in the Mopti, Koulikoro and Segou Regions. The program aims to increase the diversity of foods consumed in these regions to decrease malnutrition and make the population healthier.

Today, the Office of Food for Peace (FFP), an organization within USAID, partners with the U.N. World Food Programme, U.N. Children’s Fund and CARE, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending world poverty, to provide food assistance in the poorest regions of Mali. As of July 2019, FFP assists 300,000 people with food distributions, supplemental nutrition assistance and asset-building activities. 33,000 severely malnourished children have received ready-to-use food and 124,000 people in the Mopti Region have been provided with programs to improve food security, promote hygiene and provide conflict support.

– Hayley Jellison
Photo: Flickr

U.S. Benefits from Foreign Aid to CameroonCameroon is a country in Central Africa known for its cultural and geographic diversity. The United States and Cameroon established economic relations in 1960 and have shared a somewhat positive relationship since. U.S.-Cameroon relations have hit turbulence in recent years due to concerns over human rights violations and a lack of change to political and economic conditions.

Regardless of the speed of progress, both countries share a desire to reduce threats to the region, improve the living conditions of the people and promote economic conditions. This work means that there are many ways the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Cameroon.

Despite Cameroon’s economic growth, health standards have not seen the expected growth rates that generally rise with economic conditions. Life expectancy, child mortality and maternal mortality are below the regional average. The rate of HIV/AIDS infection in Cameroon is roughly 4.3 percent, which is among the highest in Western and Central Africa. Of the people that live in Cameroon, close to 40 percent live below the poverty line.

In order to combat this problem, the U.S. Agency for International Development provides a multitude of programs benefitting Cameroon, managed mainly through its regional office in Ghana. As well as USAID, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides U.S. aid to Cameroon in order to prevent and fight the spread of HIV/AIDS. The U.S. State Department, in conjunction with USAID, also provide funds for refugees, civic engagement in elections, democratization, counter-extremism and education.

USAID also supports the promotion of human rights and the democratization process through the Cameroon Peace Promotion Project which utilizes radio programming to increase awareness of violence in the region and increase community unity towards a safer Cameroon. The program supports local moderate voices promoting tolerance and opportunities for dialogue on the events happening in Cameroon.

In order to support humanitarian intervention in the conflicts of Cameroon, the U.S. funnels aid to Cameroon through the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance and the Food for Peace Program. This office, as well as this program, assist those harmed or displaced by regional conflicts. This U.S. aid to Cameroon goes to help feed those affected by malnutrition, provide healthcare to those in need and provide cash for work opportunities which help put food on the table and train local citizens better practices.

As well as providing material assistance, these programs provide safe spaces for women and children affected by violence and knowledge on how to resist and mitigate future violence in the region. These efforts are also attempting to promote more independence in the region and provide knowledge to citizens in order to increase self-sufficiency.

The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Cameroon by promoting health standards in Cameroon which in turn prevents the spread of disease to the U.S. The United States, as the leading investor in the region, also supports the development of trade with Cameroon for good and services.

Cameroon exports goods such as petroleum, rubber, timber and coffee to the United States, while Cameroon imports goods such as machinery, aircraft, vehicles and plastics from the United States. The open trade made possible by U.S. foreign aid dollars facilitates a mutually beneficial relationship and allows for Cameroon to develop products to trade not only with the U.S. but with many other countries around the world as well.

In conclusion, Cameroon is a region in which economic development has not been as successful in efforts to end poverty. With the help of the United States Agency for International Development and programs such as Food for Peace, Cameroon is on track to begin down the road to poverty eradication. The people of Cameroon are gaining the skills and materials needed to become a more self-sufficient and democratic country, and the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Cameroon as well.

– Dalton Westfall
Photo: Flickr