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In the Sahel, HI is helping women farmers cope with climate change


Inclusion | Mali | PUBLISHED ON April 6th 2023
Kadia (left), watering her garden with another farmer (right).

Kadia (left), a farmer in the town of Léré in Timbuktu, Mali. | © MAEFILMS / HI

In Mali, drought and conflict are ravaging the region and threatening the population’s food security. HI is helping women farmers to improve their harvests.

In the Sahel, drought intensified by climate change and the conflicts ravaging the region have generated food insecurity and risks of undernutrition for many communities. To address this situation, HI and its partners are helping communities to develop sustainable economic activities.

Crops threatened by drought

In these regions, the lack of rainfall – exacerbated by climate change – is threatening the survival of farming communities. Without sufficient harvests, many households do not have enough food to feed themselves. It is estimated that by 2023, more than 1,200,000 people in Mali will need emergency food aid1, especially during the “hunger gap” before the next harvest comes in.

This used to be the case for Katou, a 60-year-old widow living in the town of Léré in the Timbuktu region. Despite the vagaries of the weather, Katou had always made her living out of market gardening, working plots in the women's market garden in Léré. But her efforts and determination were not enough to overcome a lack of financial resources and adequate materials.

Financial support for developing agriculture

HI gave Katou a grant of 120,000 CFA francs to support her business and develop her crops. With these funds, she was able to buy fertiliser and equipment and farm more plots.

Today, Katou grows lettuces, tomatoes, potatoes, white cabbage, carrots, beets and okra. Her harvest is now sufficient to ensure her household’s food security. She also sells seeds to other women in the community and enough fresh vegetables to be able to set some money aside.

"There was a time when I would spend all day watering my plants in this garden, but I would barely get enough to feed my children in the evening. With the help of HI, I have become a reference in market gardening. I produce ten times more vegetables than before. Today, by selling my vegetables at the market, I can earn up to 4,500 CFA francs a day. This is much more than I used to earn a few years ago. With this income, I can cover my family's needs without outside help," says Katou, happily.

Women meeting their families’ needs

Kadia, another farmer from Léré, also received support from HI to develop her crops and become financially independent.

"I received supplies and the sum of 120,000 CFA francs. With this money, I did business, planted seeds, set up nurseries and sold what I grew. I was able to buy livestock, feed my children and buy their school supplies," says Kadia.

With better harvests, these women farmers have secured a future for their families and they now participate fully in their communities. Katou, for example, has become a true leader, respected by all the women farmers thanks to her dedication and commitment. In return, she shares her experience with the other women.

Supporting people on the road to resilience

In the town of Léré, HI set up a committee whose role was to identify the poorest people. These people benefitted from monetary assistance for three years running, as well as support to develop their economic activities and ensure them a sustainable income.

In Mali and Mauritania, HI and its partners are implementing a project to improve the living conditions and resilience of vulnerable populations by providing them with skills and knowledge that will improve their daily lives in a sustainable way. This four-year project will support more than 2,600 households, i.e. approximately 15,000 people, thanks to financial support from the European Union. In addition, social cohesion and nutrition activities will benefit another 69,000 people. For this project, HI is working in partnership with other humanitarian actors: Solidarités International (SI), International Rescue Committee (IRC), Appui au Développement Intégré des Communautés Rurales (ADICOR) and Association Malienne pour la Sécurité et la Souveraineté Alimentaires (AMASSA - Afrique Verte Mali)

GREEN PROJECT: HI is committed to reducing the adverse effects of climate change on the world's vulnerable and marginalised populations. Our organisation prepares communities to cope with climate shocks and stresses and responds to crises amplified by environmental factors. HI takes vulnerability or exclusion factors related to disability, gender and age into account in all its actions, and lobbies for practitioners and politicians to also integrate this approach into their climate work. HI is also committed to reducing its own carbon footprint by adapting and implementing environmentally friendly approaches to its humanitarian action.

1. Humanitarian Response Plan 2023 – Food Security Cluster.

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