More than 25,000 women and children are to benefit from an extensive sustainable development programme which Islamic Relief is due to complete later this year.
Mali is one of the poorest countries on the planet, with the most recent figures indicating that over three quarters of the population live on less than USD $2 a day. Women and children are particularly vulnerable to extreme poverty, especially in Koulikoro, Djitoumou, where women have scant opportunities to earn a living. Forests are being decimated to meet the needs of growing rural populations – fuelling desertification that leads to ever-deepening poverty and suffering.
Life-changing projects for women and children
Since 2011, Islamic Relief has been delivering a range of life-changing projects designed to boost incomes and enhance services for women and children in rural villages. The programme also aims to reduce deforestation and promote renewable sources of energy.
So far, we have constructed and equipped maternity facilities, and provided 20 motorcycle ambulances to serve communities. Local people have been empowered to oversee the services through health centre management committees. We trained health workers to spot and treat malnutrition, and midwives to prevent the transmission of diseases and improve birth plans and care for newborns.
Supporting lasting livelihoods
Local women’s cooperatives have been formed to collect, conserve and process shea nut, an edible product that is prized by cosmetics companies around the world. We set up four processing centres and delivered training in technical and business skills necessary to nurture sustainable livelihoods.
Other local women accessed our Islamic microfinance scheme and specialist training to set up successful enterprises through which they can earn a decent living. Already, the women have been able to pay school fees for 234 children and fund 256 medical prescriptions.
Improving access to water, sanitation and education
By the time the programme completes later this year, we will have installed latrines in 1,500 households and drilled over 120 boreholes and wells to provide communities with local access to water. Three micro-dams will also be built, to reduce dependence on scarce groundwater in the drought-prone area – as well as vegetable gardens and measures to restore degraded land.
“Islamic Relief has helped us so much with the establishment of our rural maternity health center equipped with a mini [solar-powered] water distribution system,” said Mariam Traore, who lives in village de M’pièbougou, Mali.
We are also constructing and fully furnishing ten schools constructed and providing training for teachers and school staff. Community awareness campaigns are promoting the rights of girls to an education, and improving understanding of topics such as malaria, HIV, and family planning.
“Islamic Relief has helped us a lot,” said Sanamba Samaké, 13. “It built a new school with three classrooms, one headmaster’s office, and one block of latrines. Our learning environment is better now and sanitation conditions improved.”
Altogether, the programme is expected to benefit over 114,000 people and is amongst a range of development and humanitarian projects being delivered by Islamic Relief in Mali.