Mali: Rebuilding lives affected by years of insecurity

Published: 15 August 2016 7:00 CET

By Moustapha Diallo, IFRC

At 70 years of age, Aliou Djima walks painfully. Due to a disability, his strength is not what it once was. Four years ago, he left his village of Gadeye when conflict erupted in northern Mali to seek refuge with his wife and eight children in the south.

After several weeks of wandering, the ten family members were at last hosted by one family where “everything was lacking” he says. When insurgents were dislodged from the north, they decided to return to their home village, the family among the thousands which have been gradually returning home. Like Djima, most are facing hardship in rebuilding their lives as they have lost their livelihoods and many are returning empty-handed to damaged homes.

In a region prone to cyclical food shortages and malnutrition, ongoing insecurity makes their lives even more difficult, and further weakens their resilience.

Through a project funded by USAID and the Office of U. S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, the Mali Red Cross, with support from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), is helping families such as Djima’s to become more resilient by restoring their livelihoods through the distribution of livestock, animal feed, seeds, cash, agricultural inputs and income generating activities in the regions of Gao and Timbuktu.

Djima’s family is one of 140 families in Gao which have received goats and animal feed under this project, in a bid to rebuild the assets of those affected by the ongoing conflict and food insecurity in northern Mali.

“Goats are capable to withstand weather conditions and can give families milk and meat, as well as cash from sales. However, in Timbuktu we distributed sheep to 60 families as it was their preference,” says Gaoussou Togora, project manager at Mali Red Cross.

All families have been trained by the Red Cross in livestock management to make sure the goats and sheep remain healthy. 

“My deepest wish is to see the goats reproduce rapidly so we can sell some of the offspring to meet our other needs,” says Djima. “We are already drinking the milk they provide.”

The project has also seen the distribution of rice seeds to 1,000 households, training and cash transfers to 200 women’s cooperatives in developing income generating activities, and the provision of agricultural inputs to 40 associations.