The 2012 food security crisis in the Sahel – driven by chronic poverty, malnutrition, high food prices, drought and low agricultural production – affected 18.7 million people across the region.
The conflict in northern Mali, coupled with desert locust threats, further aggravated the situation, putting the livelihoods of 50 million people at risk. Many of the poorest households, already vulnerable from recurring shocks and crises, were forced to sell their assets, reduce the number of meals per day or move with their livestock earlier than usual in search of grazing land.
Pastoralists, in particular, were at risk. Regional instability hampered their movement while water scarcity, depleted pastures and fodder shortages made it difficult for them to keep their animals nourished and healthy.
Many refugees from Mali had travelled with their livestock, adding pressure to already scarce natural resources and creating tension with local populations.