Analysis of the context, crisis and needs
In 2020, the humanitarian crises in Mali worsened due to the immediate multifaceted effects of conflict and violence, including inter and intracommunal conflicts, radicalized armed groups and criminality. The number of vulnerable people who need assistance increased due to pervasive poverty, the COVID-19 pandemic and the chronic effects of climate change. Mali also underwent a political crisis culminating in the Army ousting the Government, resulting in an 18-month transition period as of September. The conflict and the accompanying humanitarian needs expanded from Mali's Liptako-Gourma region to the Kayes, Koulikoro and Sikasso regions in the south and west.
The number of food-and-nutrition insecure people reached 1.3 million people during the lean season of June-August 2020, which is an increase of more than 200 per cent compared to the same period in 2019. This is due to the volatile security and transitional political context, combined with the weak presence of Malian regional authorities and technical services. Additionally, 2.4 million people currently need support to protect their livelihoods.
The growing instability led to a surge in internal displacement. As of the end of August 2020, close to 290,000 people were internally displaced. This is four times more than in early 2019 and adds 100,000 people since August 2019. UNHCR reported that the number of Malian refugees and asylum seekers in neighbouring countries increased from 138,402 to 141,676 between September 2019 and July 2020. Meanwhile, 84,000 Malian refugees returned to Mali over the same period due to the insecurity.
The protection of vulnerable groups remains worrisome, with 4,411 cases of gender-based violence (GBV) reported since January 2020, mainly by women (98 per cent), of whom 61 per cent are girls. Civilians are increasingly exposed to risks on the main roads due to improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in central Mali. From January to September 2020, IEDs killed 181 civilians. This is on par with the past two years: IEDs claimed 222 casualties in 2019 and 249 casualties in 2018.
A total of 1,261 schools remained closed due to insecurity in the center and north, depriving 338,700 children of their right to education. Access to safe drinking water remains problematic, with less than one in two people having access to safe drinking water in Gao and Kidal. Five per cent of IDPs have safe access to water, which is below the national average of 68.8 per cent.
In conflict-affected areas, 23 per cent of health facilities are not functioning and primary health-care services remain limited. As of 8 November 2020, 3,706 COVID-19 cases had been confirmed in 38 health districts across 9 regions, including 137 deaths (3.7 per cent case-fatality rate) and 2,828 patients cured. In addition, the socioeconomic consequences related to COVID-19 are likely to have a long-term socioeconomic impact for the poorest households.
Floods caused significant damage to crops, equipment, housing, grain stores and livestock. According to Government figures, as of 30 September 2020, floods affected 11,019 households (80,760 people), including 5,400 IDPs, in the Koulikoro, Menaka and Segou regions.
Faced with a public health emergency, natural disasters and fragile security, humanitarian partners (with 45 per cent of financial requirements resourced available) will reach 2.6 million people out of the targeted 5.5 million by December 2020. This is an increase of approximately 11 per cent from the 2.35 million people reached by 30 September 2020.
Projected situation in 2021 and beyond
Given the deterioration of the protracted humanitarian context, 2021 is likely to see humanitarian needs increase. Operational challenges related to humanitarian access, protection and the preservation of humanitarian space will dominate advocacy and coordination efforts to reach people in need. Under the current circumstances, IDPs have no short- or medium-term prospect for return. Substandard living conditions, food insecurity, malnutrition and health hazards will rise among an increasingly vulnerable population who resort to negative coping strategies, affecting women, girls and people with disabilities.
Despite favourable rainfall for the 2020 agricultural season, humanitarian partners identified a record 7.1 million people who need humanitarian assistance in 2021 out of 13.5 million crisis-affected people. Food insecurity is likely to continue due to the access constraints to arable land because of ongoing conflict in central Mali. Sustained high market prices for cereals and livestock, as well as COVID-19-related restrictions that include supply chain disruptions, are among the underlying factors worsening the food security situation. Approximately 188,000 Malian children under 5 years of age are expected to be affected by severe acute malnutrition in 2021, while an estimated 1.2 million people are exposed to the risk of waterborne diseases.
In response to the pandemic, resources were reallocated from basic health-care services. This has negatively impacted health-care services such as primary health care, nutritional services and vaccinations.
Response priorities in 2021
For 2021, the Malian humanitarian community renews its commitment to strengthen its operational capacities to meet the needs of 5.8 million people targeted by the 2021 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP). The overall estimated budget for humanitarian planning is $498 million. This is for sectoral, intersectoral, and multisectoral interventions covering the humanitarian consequences of the crisis related to life-saving responses, strengthening basic social services, assuring the protection of the population and promoting resilience. These interventions include three thematic pillars in line with the three-year strategic objectives: food and nutritional security; health and WASH; and protection, education and shelter/non-food items, as adopted in 2020.
The pandemic has exacerbated protection risks and threats including GBV, and increased stigma and discrimination towards IDP. The centrality of protection remains crucial in the humanitarian response for Mali in 2021. Cross-cutting issues such as gender, accountability, SGBV and PSEA are also crucial.
To reduce vulnerability, strengthen resilience and improve the protection of the environment, collective outcomes must be identified based on strengthened coordination and complementarity between humanitarian, development and peace interventions. This includes social cohesion activities and the socioeconomic empowerment of affected populations.
Interventions integrate COVID-19 mitigation measures to protect staff, communities and partners involved in humanitarian programmes.