Mali

One in ten children in Mali don’t reach their fifth birthday.

High numbers of Malian children die of preventable disease, such as diarrhoea. That’s due in large part to the fact that less than half the population have access to safe drinking water and three-quarters do not have a proper toilet. Malnutrition is rife, a problem compounded by drought and insecurity.

Region

The Mopti region in central Mali.

Who’s being helped

Subsistence farmers struggling to survive due to recent drought. Many in the communities we are supporting are Dogon people, an ethnic minority native to the Mopti region.

The project

Our partners are working with some of the most vulnerable communities in Mali, bringing them simple but life-changing solutions to basic problems. In Bankass, our partner ODES is helping families build household toilets and is constructing large-diameter wells. It is also helping women earn a living by making soap. Meanwhile, another partner, AEDM, is working in Koro, building toilets, rehabilitating water points and distributing hygiene kits. Hygiene education and training is a vital part of both partners’ work.

Helping families access clean water is making a huge difference to communities facing drought. In many areas, the water table is up to 60 metres deep, and families used to have a long daily trek to collect water. Water scarcity had also been a source of tension between villages. Now families have a reliable source of water thanks to their wells, they feel much more confident about their harvests and their ability to feed their children.

Changing lives

Alpha Arama and his family live in Koumé village, in a rural area outside the city of Bankass. They eke out a meagre existence by farming but the land in this region is arid and barren. Because there are so few bushes and so little privacy, Alpha and his four children used to have to wait till dark to go to the toilet outdoors. Local people were generally not aware that they needed a latrine to keep healthy. Even if they had recognised the link between their ill health and poor sanitation, toilets are hard to build in Koumé because the soil is so sandy and pits are prone to collapse. Once Alpha understood the need for a toilet, he was keen to build one with our partner ODES’s input and advice. Now, his neighbours are following suit. Since ODES repaired their well too and taught them about hygiene, villagers feel far more confident about the future. ‘We thank ODES for opening our eyes,’ says Alpha. ‘Hope is being reborn in the village.’

(Sources: Unicef; World Bank)