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Markets in crises: the conflict in Mali

Working papers

Written by Veronique Barbelet

​Despite rapid progress, humanitarians must become even more sophisticated and holistic in their approach to markets in crises. It is not enough for humanitarians to understand whether markets are functioning or not during a crisis. They must go a step further and consider the implications of changes for vulnerable households.

In arguing for a more proactive approach to markets, this paper looks at how the conflict in Mali affected markets in the north of the country. It explores the impact humanitarian aid had on households via markets and also considers whether market activities contributed to - or detracted from - people’s resilience.

Ultimately, humanitarian organisations should aim to restore markets in ways that support affected populations and not treat them simply as a delivery mechanism. In Mali, fulfilling these goals through market-based programming could involve engaging with challenges around credit, cash flow for traders and the purchasing power of communities.

Veronique Barbelet with Marthe Diallo Goita