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FAO Regional Office for Africa

Mali: strengthening coherence between social protection and agriculture, food security and nutrition

Social protection has proved to have positive impacts in the fight against hunger and poverty, including in the rural areas. (Photo: ©FAO/Sonia Nguyen)


1 August 2017, Bamako - Nearly 56 percent of the rural population in Mali lives in poverty with limited resources to invest in agricultural activities. Among those, about 3 million people are classified as being at risk of food insecurity with limited access to social assistance or social services in general. 

According to the March 2017 Cadre Harmonisé factsheet, around 3.188 million people are forced to resort to negative coping strategies to move out of situations of recurrent crisis, weakening their livelihoods even further. 

Although important, short term humanitarian responses during recurrent humanitarian crises, cannot ensure that poor and vulnerable households are able to cope and withstand the impacts of the crises, while supporting their sustainable way out of poverty and food insecurity.

Until recently, the Government has developed and implemented social cash transfers programmes. However, much needs to be done to develop a social protection system that can foster the resilience and support the livelihoods of the poorest and most vulnerable rural households.

Social protection has proved to have positive impacts in the fight against hunger and poverty, including in the rural areas. However, given the multidimensional nature of these issues, social protection interventions alone cannot sustainably eradicate poverty and vulnerability, but they should be part of a broader strategy for sustainable development. In fact, linking social protection to the rural development sectors, namely agriculture, livestock, fisheries and forestry, can effectively contribute to the protection and promotion of the livelihoods of rural people, including the most poor and vulnerable. 

Nonetheless, rural development actors are not usually equipped to take part in the design and implementation of agricultural policies and programmes which take in consideration the social protection components. Thus, most of the time, they do not take part in the national debate on social protection in Mali.

In this context, FAO and its partners organized a training workshop on the role of social protection for food security and nutrition, that took place in Bamako the 4th, 5th and 6th July 2017. The training was directed to actors in the rural development, social protection and food security and nutrition sectors.

Representatives of the Ministry of Solidarity and Humanitarian Action, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock, Ministry of Finance, and the Food Security Commission took part in the training, together with international partners and civils society organizations, for a total of 30 participants.

Concrete objectives

The training had three main objectives, the first one being the contribution to strengthening the capacities of rural development actors concerning social protection for food security and nutrition and connect them more effectively to the processes related to the Social Protection National Policy.

The second objective was to enhance the knowledge and understanding of social protection actors regarding the main interventions in the rural development sector. Finally, the third objective was to create a space for analysis and dialogue and to encourage the collaboration among different sectors.

As stated during the opening ceremony by Mr. Amadou Diallo, social protection technical Counsellor representing the Ministry of Solidarity and Humanitarian Action, «the National Social Protection Policy is a priority for Mali and the Ministry grants particular attention to it».

According to the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, represented by Ms. Gassama Adane Maïga, «the training will contribute to better organize our services to implement the measures stated in the agricultural orientation law, related to the social protection of rural people». 

In a team work atmosphere, through different pedagogical methodologies, participants had the possibility to exchange their knowledge and discuss on concrete proposals for reinforcing intersectoral coordination in the fight against hunger and poverty in Mali.

As underlined by Joaquin Sachez, Programme Officer in FAO Mali: « FAO is strongly convinced that the social protection of farmers, fisheries and forest dependent communities, and all other rural people will only be achieved through an integrated and comprehensive framework of interventions, developed within a broader rural development strategy that can enable the rural population to sustainably move out of poverty […]. We will continue to be available and ready to help reinforcing the synergies between social protection and rural development with the final goal of breaking the cycle of rural poverty».

The Organization is reinforcing its contribution in the social protection and resilience agenda in Mali as the country is advancing its policies for extending the coverage of social protection to rural areas. This contribution includes also an ongoing study to assess the feasibility and propose integrated packages of social protection services to support the productivity of rural populations.

At the end of the three days' training, Ministries’ representatives committed to strengthen intersectoral synergies and to reinforce joint actions that can allow the Malian rural population to benefit from social protection interventions and complementary programmes with the final objective of moving out of poverty. 

The Bamako’s training was in line with a larger effort of FAO to strengthen social protection for the resilience of rural populations and for food security and nutrition at regional level.  Similar activities are being implemented also in Senegal, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad.

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