In Mali, the Aga Khan Foundation's (AKF) activities are integrated through the Mopti Coordinated Area Development Programme.In 2007, the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) launched projects in rural development, healthcare, education and civil society strengthening in the Mopti region of Mali. These activities are integrated through the Mopti Coordinated Area Development Programme.
Less than 10 percent of community health centres in Mali – covering over 70 percent of the population – are managed by doctors. This situation is aggravated by natural and geographical barriers that isolate human resources, making it difficult for doctors to travel for training or other learning. In response to this challenge, AKF is partnering with the University of Bamako Faculty of Medicine to establish an online training and remote consultation system for rural health clinics. This will enhance the capacity of rural health personnel and permit poor, remote populations to access quality basic healthcare services.
Up until 2008, the lack of quality health services in Mopti had resulted in a particularly high incidence of maternal and newborn death. In response, AKF helped establish a number of cases de santé, built by the villagers, with the assistance of the Foundation, which supplied the architect and master mason. These health huts, staffed by community health workers trained by AKF, certified by the Ministry of Health and paid for by the community, have had an immediate positive impact: no maternal deaths and only one newborn death have been reported since 2008.
AKF is also working to reduce high rates of malnutrition and diarrhoeal diseases by supporting women farmers to increase and diversify their agricultural production; implementing a women’s literacy programme with nutrition as the first core subject; supporting the construction of low-cost drainage systems; facilitating community-led total sanitation processes; improving latrines and water points in schools; and training teachers in core health and hygiene competencies.
Investments in water and sanitation infrastructure have been coordinated with AKTC’s cultural restoration projects, which have revitalised the Komoguel quarter in Mopti. For example, restoration of the Komoguel mosque is linked to a water supply and sanitation programme that is aimed at improving environmental health in the neighbouring area. It includes: installing a neighbourhood sewage network that connects waste water to a sedimentation and filtration basin; installing and operating a manufacturing facility to produce street-paving blocks made of recycled plastic bags and sand; improving open space with street paving; and providing vocational training in brick manufacturing, construction, sewage and plumbing installations, as well as topographic surveying.
In Mali, AKF’s Rural Development Programme works in partnership with local communities to improve agricultural productivity and rural livelihoods. The programme’s goals are to increase food security and enhance nutrition through improved agricultural production, and to increase incomes by facilitating agricultural marketing.
The Foundation’s activities derive from an intensive community development planning process, which includes the creation and/or strengthening of an institutional structure at village level through which people can determine priority needs and decide how best to manage common resources in the interests of the community as a whole. Broad-based village organisations, along with sector specific interest groups, serve to represent the community to the government and to other development partners, including NGOs and the private sector.
A number of proven participatory training methodologies are used to ensure that agricultural activities are sustainable and replicable. These include farmer field schools to expand access to improved seed and cultivation techniques, test plots embedded within women’s vegetable gardens, and the Participatory Learning and Action Research in Integrated Rice Management approach. Working in the horticulture, rice, millet and sorghum sub-sectors, select farmers are trained from each village. Once trained, they are supported and monitored as they train others and demonstrate new production practices.
The Foundation selects the crops that it will promote based on a number of strategic factors, including market viability, nutritional quality, prevalence in the targeted area and explicit benefit to women. One of the initial objects is to achieve a 20 percent increase in vegetable production for 4,000 women and a 25 percent increase in household revenues for 2,000 households through vegetable sales.
The Foundation aims to make markets work for the poor. It engages in in-depth value chain analyses to understand the gaps and potentials in the market and then acts to address the constraints through working with producer groups, input suppliers, credit providers and other market actors.
In order to ensure that appropriate varieties of seed are available on a sustainable basis in the Mopti Region, AKF is partnering with the World Vegetable Centre (AVRDC), the International Centre for Research on Semi Arid Crops (ICRISAT) and the West Africa Seed Alliance (WASA). To enhance its work in market linkages, a partnership has been formed with ACDI/VOCA. In all its activities, AKF works closely with local government and community institutions.
In Mali, AKF is supporting the development of a dynamic, competent and sustainable civil society sector. A consultative process has led to the development of widely accepted standards for a good quality civil society organisation (CSO) and the design of a self-assessment tool to measure an organisation’s progress towards reaching these standards. AKF has facilitated 285 CSOs across every region of Mali to complete self-assessments and has supported the capacity building of 80 of them.
In recognition of the importance of strong relationships between Government and civil society for the nation’s growth, the Foundation has also been working to promote better collaboration between the two sectors. This work has led to multiple fora at Bamako and regional levels with government officials and civil society representatives to identify core opportunities and challenges in the relationship and devise strategies to address these.
AKF has also supported the development of a comprehensive civic education curriculum, teachers’ guide and modules for use in the non-formal education sector. This is being adapted for use in the formal sector and universities, thereby laying the groundwork for a population more aware of their roles and responsibilities as citizens.
Additionally, AKF has worked to introduce best practices on corporate social responsibility and institutional integrity in Mali. In partnership with the International Business Leaders’ Forum and Tiri, the programme has trained project companies of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development. These interventions are now in the process of being expanded beyond the Network.
AKF has prioritised the development of local civil society institutions as part of its Mopti Coordinated Area Development Programme. As such, AKF is building the capacity and competence of local health, education, agriculture, women’s and microfinance organisations and is assisting them in mobilising local resources to realise their objectives. AKF has also facilitated the creation of village organisations which analyse the context, propose solutions and implement activities to address major development needs.
In Mopti, basic education opportunities are difficult to access and of low quality, with major disparities between girls and boys and rural and urban areas. Primary school enrolment is under 50 percent and the literacy rate is as low as 10 percent for women.
Getting young children in school and engaging them in quality learning is a major challenge. It involves not only pedagogical support and training, but also attention to factors outside of the classroom: Do children often stay home with diahrroea due to unclean water? Do they have trouble concentrating in school because they arrive on empty stomachs? Is education a priority for parents?
To address these education challenges, AKF is working with public schools, private community schools and early childhood development (ECD) centres in Mopti Region to improve access to quality education. Core activities focus on improving teaching and learning by promoting the development of low or no cost teaching and learning materials, introducing child-centred pedagogical approaches and improving the instruction of specific subjects, especially French language, science and math.
In addition, AKF has facilitated the establishment of more than 20 Reading for Children groups, based in literacy classes, ECD centres and women’s horticulture groups. More than 300 pre-school children and nearly 3,000 primary school children are currently benefiting from AKF’s activities, along with nearly 60 pre- and primary school teachers. On a broader level, AKF is engaged in influencing national education policies in Mali so that they are more conducive to improving quality.
Given the strong demand, the Foundation has supported youth and adult literacy groups across target communities. About 800 youths and adults have benefited from this programme across six villages in Mali.
AKF is also supporting education activities of companies in West Africa which are operated by the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED). For example, AKF has been supporting Filtisac, an AKFED company based in Abidjan, to develop an early childhood development programme based in their on-site health facility. The programme is supporting improved parent-child engagement and access to appropriate storybooks.
An Aga Khan Academy is planned for Bamako. When constructed, it will be part of a network of 18 planned Academies offering the highest international standards of pre-primary, primary and secondary education to students across East Africa, the Middle East, Central and South Asia. Admission to the Aga Khan Academy will be based on merit and include a diverse student body as part of its mission to educate future leaders with a pluralistic sensibility. The Academy will offer a broad, multi-disciplinary curriculum of the highest international standards, with an emphasis on the humanities. Through the implementation of the globally recognized International Baccalaureate programme, the school aspires to produce graduates who have developed not only a strong capacity and desire to learn, but a pluralistic outlook and understanding of the world around them.
For more information, please see the Academy pages.
In 2005, in support of the Malian government's ambitious plan to develop the microfinance industry in the country, AKDN established The Première Agence de MicroFinance in Mali (PAMF-Mali), an institution of the Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance (AKAM). The programme targets both urban and rural populations in the Mopti region. Loans are being extended to both groups and individuals to address specific financial needs such as rural credit, financing of service activities, working capital for commercial activities, among others.
The population of Bamako, the capital of the Republic of Mali, has risen rapidly in recent years to over two million inhabitants, creating new demand for housing and public facilities. In this context, the need for far-sighted urban planning was crucial. The Government’s response was to define the outlines of the National Park of Mali, a space of 103 hectares within a larger protected forest reserve of 2,100 hectares, which forms a significant greenbelt in this mainly arid country. For more information, please see the Mali cultural pages and the Mali Earthen Architecture Programme.
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