This study employed longitudinal and quasi-experimental methods to assess the impact of food assistance on outcomes related to food security, nutrition and education during conflict in northern Mali.
Food assistance increased household non-food and food expenditures, as well as micronutrient availability. The effects on expenditures and children’s height were concentrated in areas not in the immediate vicinity of the conflict and among those receiving at least two forms of food assistance. In villages where armed groups were present, food assistance improved household micronutrient availability from food consumption, including zinc and vitamin A.
School feeding led to increases in enrolment by 11 percentage points and an additional half a year of schooling. Attendance among boys residing in households receiving general food distribution decreased by 20% compared with the comparison group. Food assistance led to increases in enrolment in higher conflict intensity areas. The negative effects of general food distribution on attendance were also concentrated in the most affected areas. Conversely, school feeding increased attainment of children residing in areas not in the immediate vicinity of the conflict.
School feeding led to lower girls’ participation and time spent at work, while general food distribution increased children’s labour, particularly for boys.
These findings suggest that there is scope to improve the design and scale up of food assistance interventions during conflict. However, humanitarian operations during conflict face a trade-off between programme scale and effectiveness, and the practicalities of operating in areas under the control of armed groups (including security, governance and transparency).
This study is an output from the Department for International Development’s Humanitarian Innovation and Evidence Programme: greater use of evidence and innovation in humanitarian responses.
Gelli, A, Tranchant, J-P, Bliznashka, L, Diallo, AS, Sacko, M, Siegel, E, Aurino, E and Masset, E, 2018. The impact of food assistance on food insecure populations during conflict in Mali 3ie Grantee Final Report. New Delhi: International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie)