Worrying prospects for West Africa in 2013
Islamic Relief launched a West Africa appeal in March 2012, in response to a severe drought which left 18 million people food insecure. Early warning by the international community helped to mitigate the situation, following lesson learnt in the Horn of Africa, but communities are in dire need in Niger, Mali and Chad.
Focus on Mali
Mali is still experiencing severe food and fodder insecurities affecting 4.6 million and over 18 million people in the Sahel as a whole, following drought and conflict.
The situation in Mali has been exacerbated by armed group occupation of the northern region of Mali. The conflict in Northern Mali has resulted in over 39,000 people migrating towards central and southern Mali, while thousands have fled to the neighbouring countries of Burkina Faso, Niger, Mauritania and Algeria.
There are fears of increasing instability in the country, significantly affecting the humanitarian responses underway in northern Mali and weakening resilience of communities further.
How Islamic Relief is helping
IR began working in Mali in 1997, helping people affected by civil war in the northern regions. We now work in three areas of Mali: Gourma Rharous in the north, Ouelessebougou in the south and the central areas surrounding the capital, Bamako.
Our work in Mali is focused on long-term development. This includes projects covering water and sanitation, education, community-based development and child-friendly villages.
We also run the Orphan Sponsorship programme in Mali, which includes food and clothes distributions as well as monthly sponsorship.
Donate towards Islamic Relief's Development projects i.e. "Water for Life" – where a range of products are available for sponsorship (boreholes, micro dams, water wells, etc.)
Case Study: Mali
"Chocolate and make-up"
Islamic Relief offers business training to women in Mali. Since March 2011, more than 500 Malians attended workshops and classes that provide female breadwinners with business and networking skills, as well as helping them to optimise the sale of Shea nut butter.
The butter is extracted from the Shea nut tree and is used in cosmetics and as an ingredient in chocolate.
Women who take part in the project are able to increase their profits and make their business more successful, which gives them more income with which to support their families. In total, over 2,200 children are supported by mothers in the Shea nut butter project.
55-year-old Kadia supports her two children and four grandsons by selling Shea butter and mustard at a local market in Ouelessebougou.
"We don't have enough money, but we survive on the little money we make," Kadia explained.
"In the past, food prices were lower and businesses were hopeful, but today some families struggle to have three meals a day."
Kadia explains the main issues facing her community, "We need to develop the education we provide, health services, employment opportunities and our agricultural output. But our main problems are illiteracy and the lack of financial resources."
Islamic Relief provided support to our community through orphan sponsorship, supporting businesses and literacy classes. I currently attend language classes where I learn to read and write in Bamanankan, our local language.
Kadia explained that the Shea nut business training has given her knowledge and made her very happy.