Mali is in a nutrition crisis which is exacerbated by widespread poverty, drought and instability from conflict.
Chronic food insecurity is a serious concern in Mali. While malnutrition afflicts the entire population, it is the second leading cause of death in children under the age of five. For decades, we have partnered with villagers in Ouelessebougou to fight the issues of malnutrition and drought with sustainable projects like wells, gardens and nutrition training.
Our 2020 Impact
Access to water
Drinking & Garden Wells
Mali is a landlocked sub-Saharan country with an unpredictable rainy season and long months of dry, hot weather. The country’s growing population, political unrest and irregular rainfall has increased the pressure on water resources. Access to water supply is a fundamental human right. Since 1986, we have partnered with villages to construct more than 150 drinking and garden wells in the Ouelessebougou region. Structures have varied over the years to include hand-dug, concrete, pump and solar panel wells. Village Health Councils also provide training on sanitation and clean water.
Nurturing Nutrition Program
Mali relies heavily on agriculture, which employs 90 percent of the country’s rural population. Lack of resources and education lead small farmers, who are most often women, to not be able to harvest the most productive yield or to plant crops that are not suitable in nutritional value. In 2014, we developed an agricultural program specifically aimed at village women and children. The Nurturing Nutrition program provides education on nutrition and gardening practices so women and children can work together to produce healthy food for their families.
OA Women's Garden
Tucked in the center of town of Ouelessebougou is a garden oasis known as the OA Women’s Garden. We support this community garden where over 80 women and their families work in individual plots. Our Mali staff collaborates with the women to provide training and resources to cultivate a productive garden. Past projects have including constructing pump wells, fences, a garden shed and installing a solar pump well.
We train the women on efficient gardening and composting practices, increasing crop production and incorporating their garden produce in their family’s diets. They are taught how to manage products for consumption, sale and preserve products they cannot sell. The goal is to increase production so families have more to eat and have enough left over to make extra income to send their children to school. Many women work alongside children and teach them what they’ve learned about gardening, composting, harvest cycle, increased crop production and nutrition.
Now, the women from the OA Women’s garden sharing their expertise and teaching others from Alliance partner villages like Bassa and Famana. They have become leaders who can educate other women on gardening and nutrition.
We believe in the importance of primary education to create a healthier generation free from the burdens of malnutrition. Hunger and ill-health in school-age children contribute to inefficiency in school. Students with diminished cognitive abilities perform poorly and are more likely to drop out. Our village teachers include nutrition training in the curriculum of all 12 village schools. An essential component is basic practices of proper nutrition including using hand-washing stations, making healthy food choices and learning gardening principles. We know that by teaching the children how to have a well-balanced diet and the means to grow nutritious food, they will grow both mentally and physically stronger with increased opportunities for success.
To date, we have two school gardens in our partner villages of Famana and Bassa. Students receive the same training as their mothers and they work side-by-side to grow healthy crops. This gives children a strong foundation in gardening and encourages families to improve their family’s nutrition together.
Fight Against Malnutrition
Malnutrition puts villagers at a far greater risk of death and severe illnesses. Our well and gardening programs have proven an effective way to improve the access to water and nutrition. Together we can fight hunger, increase water access and strengthen community health.