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Our History in Mali
Save the Children has worked to implemented programs in Mali since 1987. Our current portfolio includes health programs for newborns, children and mothers; education programs in early childhood development and primary education; and programs addressing children's nutritional needs and families' incomes. All our programs are designed to help Mali achieve its national development plan. Our work takes place in three of Mali's eight regions — Sikasso, Sego, and Gao — with a population of some 4.8 million children and adults.
Hunger is haunting the children of West Africa. And conflict is chasing them away. West African families tend to be tough. They're used to the month of August where the sun beats down and the land is dry. They know how to get through the soudure or the lean season when food is scarce. But this year, many people will tell you, is worse than usual. Grandmothers and old men who have lived through withered crops and empty stomachs, say this year is like no other.
A recent drought has left cattle skeletons littering the landscape. And the grain pantries on are now dark and empty; people don't have anything to fall back on. Save the Children is working with health clinics and the Malian Ministry of Health to make sure malnourished kids get the help they need. We're distributing vouchers so farmer can by feed for their livestock and keep them alive Some children who have fled the north have become separated from their parents. Save the Children is broadcasting radio messages to help families stay together. And in Burkina Faso, we're starting up a child protection project in Gendafabou refugee camp so children who fled Mali can have a safe place to play and get the help they need if they've witnessed traumatic events.
Mali is in West Africa in the heart of the Sahel, an arid region on the edge of the Sahara Desert. The country's latest growing season was marked by dry spells, low river levels and soaring grain prices. Although the government has not yet declared an emergency, its Early Warning System released a report in December 2011 listing 104 communities at risk of food shortages. According to the World Food Program, 3 million Malians, among them 600,000 children under age 5, are food insecure. Conditions are exacerbated by deteriorating security, especially in the north, where there is a conflict between the government and rebel groups. Learn more
There is a great need and demand for Save the Children's programs in Mali. Children and their families continue to do without basic social services such as education, health, protection and even national identity or registration at birth. The combination of poor roads and low population density makes implementing any program a logistical challenge. Mali remains one of the world's poorest countries — ranked 175 out of 177 countries on the UNDP Human Development Index 2006 and, according to Save the Children's Annual State of the Mother's 2007 Report, is one of the most difficult places in the world to be a mother or a child.
Our health programs increase the quality of and access to community-based health and preventive services for children and women of child-bearing age. We research and pilot strategies to improve services and advocate for their expansion regionally and nationally. Save the Children also strengthens the delivery of basic health care to hard-to-reach families. Mali also is among the countries where we are introducing simple, low-cost interventions that can help save the lives of newborns. Last year, our services reached some 4 million people, including more than 1.7 million children.
Save the Children delivers school-based health services, such as deworming medicines and vitamin supplements, to children. Children are taught proper hygiene, using new latrines and wells Save the Children has installed at their schools. In the Kolondièba District, we reach children who attend school as well as children who are not enrolled. Last year, we worked in 18 schools to raise students' awareness of critical health issues including HIV/AIDS, early pregnancy and malaria.
Save the Children increases children's access to education by building classrooms that meet government standards. This makes schools qualify as public schools and benefit from government support. We build schools in communities in exchange for a commitment from parents and the community to enroll all children. Save the Children also helps small communities manage education in light of decentralization and invest local resources for children's schooling. We also train teachers and help communities solve teachers' housing needs. Last year, 101 classrooms were built and equipped in Kolondièba, with a resulting increase in children's enrollment from 69 to 74 percent. In addition, we built five large wells equipped with hand-pumps and constructed 45 latrines for students.
During the recent hunger crisis in the north, Save the Children distributed food to some 4,600 households. Supplemental food was provided to 22,500 children under age 5. We are now focusing on helping families reduce their vulnerability to hunger by improving their productivity and farming skills and helping them to manage their assets. In addition, Save the Children set up a food bank and a herd restocking project. We have mobilized and trained local groups — including women's groups — to create market gardens and created "cash-for-work" activities for women. Last year, our food security services benefited over 32,000 people, including nearly 14,000 children.
Save the Children seeks to help civic organizations in the Koulikoro Region participate in community management of small village groupings. This helps to build the local capacity so that important activities such as health services, education, management of water resources, improvements to local agriculture and women's literacy groups are sustainable. Last year, our democracy and governance services benefited more than 4 million people, including more than 1.7 million children.
Save the Children will continue to concentrate our efforts in rural, poor communities in southern Mali, where 80 percent of the population resides. In education, Save the Children will focus increased attention on revising curricula and enhancing quality in the classroom. With large numbers of children beginning to graduate from the sixth grade, there is an urgent need for the establishment and staffing of grades seven to nine. We will work to close this gap, as it will benefit all children and especially helps to strengthen girls' education. Although recent surveys show that overall HIV prevalence in Mali is 1.7 percent, high rates in certain populations underscore the importance of continuing our programs. Save the Children also plans to focus on increasing families' economic activities.
Sponsorship is a special kind of giving that creates a relationship between you and the community in which Save the Children is helping to create real and lasting change. It provides more than the satisfaction that comes with aid for improving the health and well-being of children; it delivers a special opportunity to witness young lives lifted over time. Through child sponsorship, two lives are changed forever: yours and the life of your sponsored child.
Mali Facts and Statistics
Unless otherwise noted, facts and statistics have been sourced from Save the Children's 2012 State of the World's Mothers report. You can access detailed data here.
Other sources as follows: Infant Mortality Rate: CIA World Factbook 2012; Life Expectancy at Birth: World Bank's World Development Indicators 2012; National Poverty Rate: World Bank's World Development Indicators 2012; Population: CIA World Factbook 2012; Human Development Index Rank: United Nations Development Program
Last Updated January 2014