Inflation and food security
As available arable land shrinks in certain regions, foodstuffs such as millet and sorghum become scarcer and their prices soar. In order to eat, farmers need to sell more animals; as a result, their herds are shrinking. The animals are underfed and more susceptible to disease. In this increasingly insecure environment, veterinary services are struggling.
Oumar Ballo, a veterinarian working for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Mali, explains: “The price of livestock feed has also risen. The animals no longer have enough food, especially during the lean season.” Livestock farming is increasingly under threat in Mali, despite the country being one of the largest producers of livestock in West Africa. “In terms of food security, it’s definitely worrying,” he adds.
Arrab and his community of livestock farmers have been searching for decades for the pastures they need to keep their cattle alive. They moved to Burkina Faso in the 1990s, hoping to find a better life. Due to food insecurity and the consequences of climate change, they were forced to return to Mali in 2019.
As a result of the droughts, the pastures were getting scarce, and our herds were starving. They had nothing to eat, and neither did we, says Arrab.
They are surviving as best they can in the Liptako-Gourma region, on the Malian side of the border, with the few animals they have left. The security situation is deteriorating rapidly.
“We were never attacked ourselves, but there were clashes in villages close to ours. We were living in fear. We chose to move closer to the town of Gao. We left in haste, leaving everything behind: our belongings and the few animals we had left,” explains Arrab.
The drovers’ routes through the cross-border region of Liptako-Gourma are particularly dangerous for livestock farmers, who risk their animals being stolen.
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