C'est vraiment compliqué: A case study on the delivery of maternal and child health and nutrition interventions in the conflict-affected regions of Mali

Anushka Ataullahjan, Michelle F. Gaffey, Moctar Tounkara, Samba Diarra, Seydou Doumbia, Zulfiqar A. Bhutta, Diego G. Bassani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Mali is currently in the midst of ongoing conflicts which involve jihadist groups, rebels, and the state. This conflict has primarily centered in the North of the country. Humanitarian actors delivering services in these geographies must navigate the complex environment created by conflict. This study aimed to understand how humanitarian actors make decisions around health service delivery within this context. Methods: The current case-study utilized a mixed methods approach and focused on Mopti, Mali's fifth administrative region and fourth largest in population. Latent content analysis was used to analyze interview transcripts guided by our research objectives and new concepts as they emerged. Indicators of coverage of health interventions in the area of maternal and child health and nutrition were compiled using Mali's National Evaluation Platform and are presented for the conflict and non-conflict regions. Development assistance estimates for Mali by year were obtained from the Developmental Assistance for Health Database compiled by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. Administrative data was compiled from the annual reports of Mali's Système Local d'Information Sanitaire (SLIS), Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) and Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS). Results: Our data suggests that the reaction of the funding mechanisms to the conflict in Mali was a major barrier to timely delivery of health services to populations in need and the nature of the conflict is likely a key modifier of such reaction patterns. Concerns have been raised about the disconnect between the very high administrative capacity of large NGOs that control the work, and the consequent burden it puts on local NGOs. Population displacement and inaccurate estimates of needs made it difficult for organizations to plan program services. Moreover, actors delivering services to populations in need had to navigate an unpredictable context and numerous security threats. Conclusions: Our study highlights the need for a more flexible funding and management mechanism that can better respond to concerns and issues arising at a local level. As the conflict in Mali continues to worsen, there is an urgent need to improve service delivery to conflict-affected populations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number36
JournalConflict and Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2020


  • Adolescent
  • Children
  • Conflict
  • Health
  • Humanitarian emergency
  • Mali
  • Newborn
  • Women


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