The impact of food assistance on food insecure populations during conflict: Evidence from a quasi-experiment in Mali
This article (PDF) in the World Development Journal aims to evaluate the impact of humanitarian aid on the food security of rural populations in Mali. A quasi-experimental study based on two survey rounds, five years apart, was designed for the Mopti region in Northern Mali. Data was collected from 66 communities randomly selected from within food-insecure districts. Study outcomes include household expenditures and food consumption and a proxy for child nutritional status (height measurements). Program impact was estimated by combining propensity score matching and difference-in-difference. Food assistance was found to increase household non-food and food expenditures and micro-nutrient availability. Disaggregating by degree of conflict exposure showed that the effects on children’s height and caloric and micro-nutrient consumption were mostly concentrated in areas not in the immediate vicinity of the conflict, unlike the increase in food expenditures that were driven by households located in close proximity to armed groups. The effects were also concentrated on households receiving at least two forms of food assistance. In villages where armed groups were present, food assistance improved household zinc consumption and also appeared to support food expenditures. Food transfers are thus found to exert a protective effect among food insecure population in conflict context. The effect on consumption and growth is strongest in the vicinity of the conflict, the effect on expenditures is strongest in villages directly affected by conflict.