Mali

Now we are strong and we do not fear the rain anymore

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To assist communities in finding a lasting solution to the quasi-recurring food security problem that keeps them in a permanent state of vulnerability, WFP and World Vision have chosen the means of building resilience within communities. This remains the best way to help them become self-sufficient and responsible for their own future.

In Kifosso village situated in Yorosso circle, communities used to fear the rainy season. Unlike other villages where the rain is associated with good harvest, Kifosso people knew that a heavy rainy season means destruction of their crops. The village farms are located in the lowlands and once the heavy rain starts, it devastates the crops. Zani Aboulaye, a village farmer recalls “last year was my worst harvest season. The rain destroyed all my crops, I only got 200 kg of grains from 1 hectare. This was just enough to feed my family of 17 people for less than a month and I had to beg for food for several months.”

Through World Vision- WFP resilience program implemented with funding from the European Union Delegation to Mali, the villagers established a contour band for water to bypass the farms. The contour band is made of relatively big stones which are placed all around the farm to divert water from passing within the farm and destroy the crops. Kifosso is hoping for the best, as this technique has showed good results in surrounding villages.

With the Food for Assets project, World Vision and WFP trained community members to construct those contour bands all over their farms. Today, they feel safer and proud because the stones will protect their crops and this is the results of their own efforts. “Thanks to this, the next rain will be a blessing, not a nightmare,” says Mr. Issa Dao, a farmer responsible to monitor the activities.

Beside the contour band, the program implemented one hectare of gardening. More than 60 women and men are working on their plots, which have already produced the first crop of lettuce, tomato, cabbage, bean and carrot. Mrs. Fatoumata Kone told us with pride, “Our village has a big open place that serves as a market to surrounding villages. The problem is that though the market is ours; we were only buying food there from other people. Now, we are proud to sell our own vegetables in our market. The garden has changed our lives, others respect us now and women are making money.”

Mr Zani, happily confessed, “before, I would go out the all day looking for food for my family and come home miserable during the lean season. Now even if I do not find something out, I do not fear because my wife can always get some cabbage, carrot, bean and tomato to cook for the children. I am proud to see her in this garden.”

In Mali, 74% of energy needs are met by biomass. Deforestation negatively influences the level of rainfall and rivers, and accelerates the desert encroachment. Cutting down trees unbalances the ecosystem as trees emit elements needed for rain production, trees roots retain soil water and stabilize rivers water level. The people of Kifosso know this well—for decades they have relied on the wood from surrounding trees. Today they are willing to plant trees to restore a sustainable ecosystem for their children. The program took into account their need and helped them plant 380 baobab trees. The baobab produces fruits and edible leaves rich in nutrients; very much appreciated by the community.

All these improvements the community manages through the local committees formed when the projects began. The committees collect annual fees worth 2,000 CFA from each villager working on the garden and the tree planting area. The fees help fund other projects and maintenance, such as deepening the wells, renewing the garden fence and buying seeds and tools. “In 10 years, Kifosso will no longer have malnourished children and we will have put in place a credit union to grant loans to our community members, the program has made us confident and strong”, says a joyful Mr. Dao