Conflict in Mali disrupts fragile food markets and threatens to escalate food crisis in West Africa

Growing insecurity in Mali and northern Nigeria is disrupting the supply of food to communities suffering from a major food crisis affecting 13 million people in West Africa, said international aid agency Oxfam today.

Growing insecurity in Mali and northern Nigeria is disrupting the supply of food to communities suffering from a major food crisis affecting 13 million people in West Africa, said international aid agency Oxfam today.

The conflict in northern Mali, one of the driving factors of last week’s coup d’état and the temporary closure of borders, had already posed a major risk to vulnerable communities in Mali and the region. Now there are signs that the escalation in the country’s instability is further affecting the already serious food insecurity across West Africa, meaning a rapid increase in humanitarian assistance to the region is urgently needed.

  • In Mali, over 200,000 people have been displaced since January. Half of these people have fled to neighbouring countries, and they are in urgent need of food, water, sanitation and shelter. Further waves of displacement remain a risk.
  • The disruption of local and cross-border food markets have limited food supplies and increased prices. Markets in Bandiagara at the border with Burkina Faso, Menaka bordering Niger, Nara-Nioro bordering Mauritania, as well as Niono and l’Office du Niger  in the centre of the country, which provides rice for all four countries, have all been hit.
  • Traditional migration routes used by pastoralists have been disrupted. Conflict has caused livestock, an essential source of food and livelihoods, to be herded in large numbers towards the south of Mali, and across to Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger, where fodder, food and water levels are dangerously low and threaten their survival.
  • A reduced ability to travel across borders to seek alternative sources of income and employment to support families at home. This is a traditional way that people cope during crises, with Nigeriens travelling to work in northern Mali, Burkinabè searching for work in central Mali, and Malian women of Nara and Nioro travelling to Mauritania.

While Oxfam and other agencies continue to operate and provide assistance to vulnerable populations in zones affected by conflict, a further degradation of security may risk hampering humanitarian access and provision of basic services to areas of greatest need.

In Northern Nigeria, an increase in conflict over recent months has also affected communities who are struggling with the food crisis. Some border posts in Borno and Yobe states  have been closed due to growing violence, while at other borders exports have been dramatically reduced, having a major impact on the ability of hard hit countries such as Niger and Chad – where 9.7 million risk going hungry this year – to import food. There has also been a sharp downturn in the migration of workers – an important way that families cope in hard times – due to fears of violence.

“Serious and complex” crisis compounded by insecurity

Al Hassan Cissé, Oxfam Regional Food Security Policy Manager, said “The Sahel was already facing a serious and complex food crisis this year, and the growing security concerns in the region risk aggravating the situation further. Regional food markets are not able to function properly in such conditions, meaning greater assistance is rapidly needed to protect millions of people who risk going hungry across the Sahel.”

Responding to the increased humanitarian needs of displaced people, Oxfam is already providing food, water and sanitation to refugees and host communities at three sites in the Tillabery region of Niger, as well as the Fassala transit camp in the Nema region of Mauritania. Preparations are also being made to provide assistance to 19,000 refugees in Burkina Faso. Overall, Oxfam plans to reach 350,000 people in Mali and 1.2 million people across the Sahel with humanitarian assistance.

Eric Mamboué, Oxfam Country Director in Mali, said “The insecurity in Mali must not prevent the urgent efforts needed to deal with the other crisis in this country: the lack of affordable food that threatens the lives and livelihoods of 3.5 million Malians. While Oxfam continues to work alongside others to tackle this crisis, dealing with the urgent nutritional needs of the Malian population must remain a top priority for all actors in the country, and access to desperately needed humanitarian assistance must be ensured”.  

Some 13 million people in the Sahel are facing a major food crisis in 2012 as poor rains and locust attacks led to a drop in cereal production of 25%, while in some regions such as Gao in northern Mali prices of food remain over 70% higher than the five year average.

Read more

Please donate to Oxfam’s Sahel Food Crisis Appeal

Blog: Hunger calls in Africa’s Sahel region

Report: Escaping the Hunger Cycle: Pathways to resilience in the Sahel (November 2011)

The insecurity in Mali must not prevent the urgent efforts needed to deal with the other crisis in this country: the lack of affordable food that threatens the lives and livelihoods of 3.5 million Malians.

Eric Mamboué

Oxfam Country Director in Mali

Notes to Editors

  • Photos of Refugees Camp in Niger –
  • Mauritania – Malian refugees camps in Nema region
  • Spokespeople from Mali, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Niger and Dakar available for interviews in English and French
  • In Mali, some 3,575,000 people live in areas at risk of a serious food crisis
  • Refugees and Internal Displaced People (IDP) figures used are from the OCHA Bulletin on 22nd March. Total numbers of displaced people are estimated at over 206,000, of which 93,433 are displaced internally in Mali. Niger is hosting 20,839 refugees and returnees, Burkina Faso 22,974, Mauritania 39,489, and Algeria over 30,000.

Contact Information

For further information:
Charles Bambara – – Mobile + 221 77 639 41 78


Candidates for World Bank president must debate each other publicly

With interviews to select a new president of the World Bank starting soon [April 9-11], a global coalition of campaigners have called on the World Bank’s executive directors to ensure that as part of the selection process, the three candidates debate each other publicly.

The campaigners – Eurodad, the Bretton Woods Project and Oxfam – urged the World Bank to break with past practice and select the best candidate, backed the wider Bank membership, not just the United States.

Jesse Griffiths, director of Eurodad said: “Without public interviews and debates, it will be impossible to ascertain whether a genuine merit-based decision has taken place, or whether convention and US power have ruled the day. If the board selects the US candidate in a closed-door process, it will seriously undermine the legitimacy of the new president.”

Oxfam spokesperson Elizabeth Stuart said: “It’s no longer tenable for the US to anoint the World Bank’s leader behind closed doors. The Bank will undermine its legitimacy if this interview process is a charade with a pre-determined outcome. A truly fair selection will boost the Bank’s legitimacy and relevance. The three candidates should debate each other publicly, so that when the selection is made, the world knows why.”

Peter Chowla, coordinator of the Bretton Woods Project said: “The World Bank’s policies and projects have the potential to improve or destroy the livelihoods of people in developing countries, which makes it unacceptable that unaccountable officials conduct this process behind closed doors. With unprecedented competition for the job, the public needs to have a chance to question the candidates.”


New child labor laws both too restrictive, ineffective – McCook Daily Gazette

New child labor laws both too restrictive, ineffective
McCook Daily Gazette
Thus the Department of Labor regulations that would impose new limits on what children under age 16 are able to do while working anywhere but their parents' farm. That includes anything to do with growing tobacco, using electronic equipment while

and more »


Free (Virtual) Participation Available for 4th Fair Trade Symposium April 2-4

Following the first three Fair Trade International Symposiums held in Montreal (2002 and 2006) and Montpellier (2008), a 4th symposium will be held at Liverpool Hope Business School (in the UK) on 2nd-4th April 2012. For this 4th edition, the symposium gathering academics and practitioners will host the final conference of the EU-funded “GeoFairTrade” project.

The aim of the symposiums is to bring together the worlds leading and newly emerging academic researchers, with practitioners, policy makers and the general public, for the development and consolidation of collective knowledge on the subject of “fair trade”.

Book virtual participation for free

The question which will be explored during the 4th Fair Trade International Symposium is the following: how can Fair Trade concretely connect producers and consumers, as well as other stakeholders, along fair and sustainable supply chains? As the Montpellier symposium explored, Fair Trade has known an unprecedented growth and mainstreaming over the last decade, translating into dramatic increases in sales and public awareness. However, many questions remain for both practitioners and academics about the potential of Fair Trade to continue growing, whilst at the same time, achieving its aims of transforming globalization.

More at 4th Fair Trade International Symposium.


ACADEMIC ACTIVISM | “Your Education is Your Advocacy.”

Let’s play a free association word game.  What is the first word that comes to your mind when you think of activism?  There is no wrong answer.  Don’t over think, just say the first word.  Marching.  The 60s.  Protesters.  Posters.  Picketing.  Boycotting.  Change.  Advocacy. These might be some of the words you came up with.  Perhaps you even thought of students. My word was smart – a word a few years ago I would not have associated with activism.  Did any of you think of, college, or intellectual, scholar, or university, lecturer, professor, pupil, graduate, tutor, theory, or education?  Suffice it to say, you did not.

The word “activism” can of course conjure up very different sets of words than listed above, depending on where you live.  I am speaking from the U.S. context.  Academics and activism are two words that, when separated, seem counterintuitive.  Almost oxymoronic – like theoretical practice or minor crisisunbiased opinion, or the living dead.  Said together, Academic Activism creates an entire new set of meaning.

The challenge is this: to encourage and inspire true Academic Activism.  I see this as Not For Sale’s core competency; giving individuals, communities, companies, institutions, and industries different entry points into activism.  I am an academic.  I am a social entrepreneur.  I am a data analyst. I am a business executive.  I am a baseball player.  I can be all of these things and be an abolitionist, an activist.

There is a history of activism and social movements within the academic community.  The enlightenment of education has led many students on campaigns against injustice – such as in the Vietnam War era or against racial segregation.  In recent times, student activists have been at the forefront of GFC and the Occupy protests – demanding economic justice.   The ironic side note of this is, modern slavery is a global economic crisis and yet there is no global uprising in response.  However, I digress.  What we are talking about here is a type of activism that does not end at graduation.  A culture of activism that is an intrinsic part of the academic social consciousness.

The concept of “Academic Activism” is not an original phrasing.  It is an audacious convergence of theory and practice, of awareness and action, of education and advocacy.  Awareness alone is passive.  Education without application holds little meaning in a world that has gone astray.   Awareness must be a byproduct of action.   Education must be a process of advocacy.  The academic institution must be a driver of holistic justice.  Being part of the academic community, whether you are a graduate or an educator, a student, an administrator or a sports coach, does not mean you cannot also be an activist.  In fact I think it means you must be.

Imagine your educational experience as a process of advocacy.  Engineering departments, law schools, mathematics faculties, all professing that we are Academic Activists.  Education is meant to be subversive.  It will challenge and shift, shape and change the people it informs.

We are talking about a radical, revolutionary, rebellious, systemic change in the academic institution.  We are talking about embedding the cause of socio-economic justice into the DNA of the academic experience.  In the lecture theatre, on the sports field, in the cafes and bookstores and after graduation – I am an Academic Activist.  You learn about it, you teach it, you wear it, you drink it, you eat it and then you take it with you wherever you go.

This is the sort of tangible connection between the academic community and the bottom billion that will change the world.  Apathy only exists because of disconnectedness from reality.  We need to change this.  There is an entry point into activism for everyone.  Your education must be your advocacy, your activism.  Education is a gift.  In my opinion, education is a gift that must be paid forward.  This is Academic Activism.  Two words together that can change the world!

By @JonoHirt

Attend an Academy.

Write, Read, Share a White Paper.

Learn more about Academic Activism on your campus.



Greece’s PPC posts Q4 loss on provisions, costs – Reuters

Greece's PPC posts Q4 loss on provisions, costs
(Recasts with quarterly figure, adds CEO comment) ATHENS, March 30 (Reuters) – Greece's biggest electricity producer PPC announced a record quarterly loss on Friday, hit by bad-debt provisions and higher fuel costs amid the country's economic crisis.
Greek utility PPC posts 148.9 mln eur loss for (press release)

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Campaign Asks Hershey to Commit to Fair Trade Cocoa for Easter

The Raise the Bar, Hershey! coalition, which has generated over 100,000 letters urging The Hershey Company (NYSE: HSY) to commit to buying cocoa produced without forced child labor, launched an Easter petition drive today getting thousands to tell Hershey and Cadbury they want Fair Trade chocolate options for the holiday.

The petition to Hershey and Kraft/Cadbury is live at:

More about the Easter campaign


From NFS Ohio: Faith Communities are Not For Sale

This past week, NFS Ohio Director Stephanie Ulmer and the Director of the Abolitionist Faith Community, Kevin Austin, gathered in Akron, OH presenting to over 700 community members. Both leaders spoke during church services and workshops, educating attendees on the modern-day abolitionist movement, and providing actionable steps each participant can take to re-abolish slavery in our lifetime.

Stephanie was humbled by the overwhelming positive response from the crowd, stating, “I even received a call from a women who is wheelchair bound, but thrilled to be an abolitionist and volunteer her time with Not For Sale doing whatever she can do to end human trafficking.”

Cornerstone Church, an active participant in the Abolitionist Faith Community and host to a Freedom Sunday service, committed to deliver a “Freedom Challenge” every Sunday with one specific action to help end human trafficking.

“I am absolutely thrilled with the tremendous response and encouraging outcome from our events,” Stephanie stated. “Abolitionists are rising up across the state and I’m honored to lead the charge to bring freedom to all in Ohio!”

To find out if there is a local Not For Sale group in your area, read more about our Community Abolitionist Network here.

If you would like to bring Not For Sale to your school, church, or local community group, consider hosting the Academy World Tour in your community.