EU Actions in Mali. Hunger, Poverty and Development

Academic Paper, 2018

12 Pages, Grade: A


Table of contents

1. Introduction

2. EU International Cooperation and Development

3. EU and Mali Cooperation

4. Food Security Thematic Programme

5. FSTP in Mali
5.1. Running projects

6. Criticism

7. Conclusion


1. Introduction

We are in the 21th century but hunger and poverty are still present, the distribution of resources in the world is highly unequal. This is the reason why this paper is going to analyse European Union (EU) policies in the field of hunger and poverty in third countries, which are one of the elements of international cooperation.

This paper introduces and discusses EU policy framework in the above-mentioned fields from the Malian point of view, precisely from the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. The aim is to critically analyse the actions of EU taken in Mali to fight hunger and poverty.

The European Union is argued to be the major donor of external assistance, with more than half of the world’s official development aid. The European Commission is organised in General Directorates (DGs), the one involved in Hunger and Poverty fight is the International Cooperation and Development DG.

EU, as a global actor, has relations with almost all the countries in the world and Mali is one of these. The controversy in the case of Mali is that this country has an enormous inner potential and could be a wealthy country, just think about the mineral resources, but the reality is that Mali is one of the poorest countries of the world. These are the factors, which led us to choose Mali, a nation which is today at place number 179 of 188 for its Human Development Index (HDI). (UN, 2015: 249)

The country is traditional split in two, Arabic populations live in the north, while Sub-Saharans in the south. Mali`s internal conflict and instability is growing, armed groups[1] coming from the north of the country carry out attacks and move forward to the centre. (Amnesty International, 2017)

In order to understand the problems, challenges and most controversies of the EU actions in Mali it is important to understand what the EU has done so far.

2. EU International Cooperation and Development

European Commission Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO) is responsible for planning European development policy and delivering aid throughout the world. There are several financial instruments DEVCO has created and is applying; the Food Security Thematic Programme is one of these.

Millenium Development Goal (MDG), since 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), represents the commitment at international level to improve lifestyle of people all over the world, 17 goals are interrelated and cover several areas. Key topics are hunger, nutrition and poverty. (United Nations Development Programme, 2017) The EU is willing to contribute in achieving these goals.

Here follows a deeper view into the EU policies, aim is to help building resilience to food crises and support countries and regions where populations suffer hunger. Food and nutrition security implies that everybody can access sufficient, affordable and nutritious food. Its strategy is multifaceted, this means that in order to achieve successfully the goal, EU policy has to be combined with other related areas. For example, in order to fight hunger, undernutrition and poverty, EU’s aids have to involve agriculture. Other factors are employment and income opportunities, which have to be improved, agriculture per se will not fix hunger, it is employment and the profit coming from it that will enable families to provide food. Another element is crisis management, a country has to be able to withstand and rapidly overcome the emergency.

The main instruments of EU’s aid in support of food and nutrition security is mainly financed are two. The first is associated to geography, it supports sectoral policy at national, regional and continental level for Africa, it is the European Development Fund, but there are fundings even for other regions, like the European Neighbourhood & Partnership Instrument or the Development Cooperation Instruments; the second instrument, the central topic of this paper, is the thematic programme, which faces specific topics rather than concentrate on the geography. (European Commission, 2011)

However, we have to keep in mind that these are not the only sources of funding, there are other modalities which are used.

3. EU and Mali Cooperation

This paper introduces the EU-Mali cooperation from 2003 until today, in order not to digress too much from the present.

The first analysed document is the Joint strategic evaluation of budget support for Mali (2003-2009) written by the European Commission. When it comes to contributions to poverty reduction the Commission accuses Malian government to be almost negligible, cause the main financial help comes from external projects.

In order to implement the FSTP the EU has to introduce action plans. The most important goals mentioned in the Action Plan of 2009 are as follows: support the process of reforms and decentralisation of state services, implement the policy for developing the agricultural land in the Delta managed by the Office du Niger, increase agricultural production, reduce food and nutritional insecurity, reinforce the competitiveness and quality of products of Mali companies, and provide technical assistance to the EDF National Authorising Officer. (European Commission, 2009: 2) It is interesting to note that food security and nutrition are here mentioned.

The DEVCO is evaluating the budget support, it concludes with a positive evaluation for the years between 2010 and 2014. (European Commission, 2014)

In the year 2012 Mali suffered from an important food crises caused by insufficient rainfall, therefore the European Commission decided on special food crisis measures for the Republic of Mali to be financed from the 10th European Development Fund. (European Commission, 2012)

In the year 2015, the EU adopted a new Action Plan to implement the 2014-2020 country strategy paper for Mali with the following priorities: human rights, democracy and other key aspects of good governance; inclusive and sustainable growth for human development; peace and gender equality. (European Commission, 2015: 2) It is important here to note that hunger and poverty are not mentioned anymore even if Mali suffered from the food crisis just three years before.

4. Food Security Thematic Programme

This paper examines The Food Security Thematic Programme (FSTP), a financial instruments of the DG DEVCO, it supports activities whose aim are to improve food security within the poorest populations in the world. The focus of this programme are sustainable solutions, which can be short or long term.

FSTP was settled in 2007, it is one of the thematic topics under the Development Cooperation instruments. We can subdivide the FSTP in two periods, the first 2011-13 and the second starting from 2013. A key factor is the bilateral cooperation between third countries and it acts at global, continental and regional level. FSTP complements the geographical instruments.

Very important is the correlation to Millenium Development Goal (MDG) and its budget. It devotes particular attention to the countries and regions around the world that are the most problematic in reaching MDG. For the years 2011-13, it had a budget of €749 million.

During the period 2011-13, this objective was pursued through three strategic priorities: research, technology transfer and innovation to enhance food security; strengthened governance approaches for food security; addressing food security for the poor and vulnerable in fragile situations, which is the most important address of the budged. (European Commission, 2017)

The second stage of FSTP evolved with regards to the Multiannual Indicative Programme (MIP) of the FSTP, and the recent Communication 'An EU policy framework to assist developing countries in addressing food security challenges'. Legal basis of FSTP is the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI). (European Commission, 2010: 5)

What about the entities eligible for funding? A number of entities are eligible for funding: partner countries and regions, and their institutions; decentralised bodies in the partner countries (municipalities, provinces, departments and regions); joint bodies set up by the partner countries and regions with the Community; international organisations; EU agencies; bodies and entities of the EU’s member states, partner countries and regions and any other third country complying with the rules on access to the Community's external assistance, including public and parastatal bodies, non-state actors, private bodies, financial institutions and natural persons. (FSTP, 2017)

FSTP is implemented through Annual Action Programmes. As we mentioned above, the last action Plan with Mali was introduced in 2015. It is very important to understand that FTSP has worldwide coverage and ensures always complementarity with other possible financing by EU geographical programmes and other instruments.

5. FSTP in Mali

“The EU has a holistic approach at all levels to prevent undernutrition and find durable solutions. Since 2007, the EU committed about €175 million to the food security and nutrition sector in Mali including small-scale agriculture, food, and nutrition security projects. Over the same period, the humanitarian service of the EU has allocated €96 million in response to food and nutrition crises.” (European Commission, 2016: 5)

This EU response helped Mali with emergency food assistance, especially in the North and with a nutrition therapeutic feeding programme all over the country. At the same time, €111 million have been devoted to support the competitiveness of the agricultural sector and an additional €30 million to nutrition-sensitive water, hygiene and sanitation. (European Commission, 2017) For the last 10 years, the EU has supported Mali to develop its institutional capacity and effectively implement nutrition-specific and sensitive programmes across various sectors. (European Commission, 2017)

If we look at the EU-Mali cooperation today, the most important strategy is the one under 11th European Development Fund (2015-2020). Key elements are rural development, food and nutrition security. (European Union, 2015:2)

At the same time, since the EU has a multifaceted strategy, it pursues political dialogue and supports the government in reforming the national food crisis management and its sectoral policies.

In line with the Commission’s Action Plan for Nutrition, the EU focuses on three strategic priorities in Mali.

First priority is mobilisation, political commitment and governance. The EU mobilises actors around nutrition through its focal sectors (policy and economic governance); rural development and food security; infrastructure and education. In partnership with UNICEF, the EU has given institutional support, for example, coordinating the platforms for nutrition at local level in Mopti and Sikasso regions. (European Commission, 2016: 6)

Second priority is to extend actions at national level. Projects whose aims are to strengthen the resilience of communities and local governance have to be in line with National Resilience priorities; supporting nutrition-sensitive agricultural programmes; promoting nutrition-sensitive water and sanitation at national level; strength health services in order to treat acute malnutrition. The special target of the poorest and most vulnerable Malians in the north is here included, they should benefit from national social protection programmes and access to free health services and education. The EU supports Mali even in the prevention field, contributing for example to the national food security response plan and supporting the functioning of the Early Warning System at local and central levels or supporting climate change adaptation actions. (European Commission, 2016: 6) Priority three is to strength expertise and the knowledge-base in the food security and nutrition sector, like providing nutrition training (including the creation of a Master’s course on nutrition in public health). In cooperation with the World Bank the EU is trying to contribute to the development of a Unified Social Register, because a study of livelihood, economic determinants of malnutrition can improve the national early warning system. (European Commission, 2016: 7)

5.1. Running projects

After this summary on EU-Mali cooperation, this paragraph gives an overview of the three currently running projects in Mali financed by the FSTP.

Projet d'Appui à la filière de l'Anacarde au Mali, PAFAM – Expected results: Through the production, processing and marketing of cashew nuts the employments and income in this sector has to improve; Mali has to be recognized as quality cashew producer at all levels, even international. In addition, through nutrition education and diversification of diets food and nutrition security will improve. (European Commission, ICD: 2017) Although Mali is one of the main cashews producer in the world (RONGEAD, 2015) the problems in this sector are several, high export costs (since Mali is a landlocked country), strong logistical problems, even in Bamako. (TIC, 2015)

Programme d'Appui à la Filière Halieutique (PAFHA) - This project represents the first intervention of the Program for Strengthening Food Security in Mali (PRORESA), funded by the 11th EDF for the period 2016-2021, PRORESA’s general objective is the reduction of the food and nutritional insecurity of vulnerable populations in Mali. PAFHA wants to improve income by supporting the fishing industry, in particular, by strengthening conservation, valorisation and marketing of fish products. Moreover, the use of sustainable practices, the government’s technical services, professional organisation and interaction with other actors should be improved. (European Commission, ICD: 2017) The problems the fishing sector has to face in Mali are deficiencies in the cold storage and bulk transport infrastructure. (UNCTAD, 2006)

Renforcement du Dispositif National de Sécurité Alimentaire (RDNSA) au Mali - Even this project is part of PRORESA. Specific aims of this project are: organizational strengthening of RDNSA structures; increased coordination and harmonization of food and nutrition security interventions; consolidating the adequacy of intervention tools and the performance of prevention and response to food and nutrition crises. (European Commission, ICD: 2017)


[1] Tuareg rebel groups led by the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, and the Islamist groups including Ansar Dine and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). (Gowan, 2013)

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EU Actions in Mali. Hunger, Poverty and Development
University of Malta
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actions, mali, hunger, poverty, development, eu aid, European development fund
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B.A. Amelia Martha Matera (Author), 2018, EU Actions in Mali. Hunger, Poverty and Development, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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