About Us

Ouelessebougou Alliance (“the Alliance”) was founded in 1986 to give Utahns the opportunity to serve a specific African community — knowing their assistance was going directly for the people for whom it was intended.

Our story

In the mid-1980’s, famine in Africa drew the world’s attention to the continent. The Sahel region from West Africa to Ethiopia was ravaged by drought causing severe food shortages, sickness, starvation and death. Mali was considered one of the poorest countries in the world, but received much less international assistance than others in the region.

A group of community leaders from the Salt Lake Community Services Council were concerned and determined to find a way that Utahns could provide relief. Through their partnership with Africare in Washington D.C., they traveled to Mali to identify the area of greatest need. The rural region of Ouelessebougou was selected as a partner not only because of its dire circumstances, but also because it had the greatest potential for long-term sustainable impact.

 The Alliance began by addressing the most basic human needs. Drinking and irrigation wells were constructed and healthcare for families was offered. In later years, education and economic development programs were added to further opportunities for growth and self-suffiency. All programs are locally vetted by the Malian staff in partnership with village leadership.

Over thirty years later, the Alliance is the longest operating international non-profit serving the impoverished region of Ouelessebougou. This lasting partnership continues to provide effective, sustainable international development work to thousands of villagers. The Alliance also facilitates a long-term partnership between communities in Utah and Mali through its sister school partnerships, education programs and community outreach opportunities. 

The Alliance is committed to assist the people of Ouelessebougou through a long-term development relationship. Our purpose is two-fold:

1. To work in partnership with village citizens to achieve their community development objectives in the areas of health and education.

2. To cultivate globally-minded citizens in Utah by providing opportunities for students and community members to learn about international development, Malian culture and Mali’s position in the global community.

About Ouelessebougou

Ouelessebougou is the name of a town and the surrounding region in Mali, West Africa. It was named after its founder, Ouelesse Samake. “Bougou” is a Bamanakan word which means “hamlet” or a small settlement. 

Ouelessebougou is located in the southwest part of Mali, approximately 50 miles from the city of Bamako. The region covers approximately 1,118 square kilometers and includes the town of Ouelessebougou and 44 villages.

The Alliance partners with 25 villages in and around Ouelessebougou commune. The 25 villages have a total population of approximately 22,500. Village populations range from 500 – 1,400 people. The native language is Bamanankan, although some villagers know French phrases. 90% of Malians are Muslim