In Mali, people in rural areas are the most vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change due to their increased dependence on dwindling natural resources, their geographically isolated settlements and their lack of necessary resources to face this reality.
Reducing this vulnerability is a real challenge for people who face both environmental challenges and multi-faceted poverty.
In the past, so-called traditional management approaches have demonstrated their limits in terms of social acceptability, the reliability of decision-making and the efficient allocation of resources.
The Waati Yelema Labenw project is implementing a new participatory approach that establishes a dialogue between communal leaders and their populations. The main objective is to closely associate all parties in the design and management of all development activities. The following first-hand accounts demonstrate the relevance and acceptance of this methodology.
“The populations are put at the heart of the Waati Yelema Labenw project’s major activities, and the creation of the steering committees within the town hall and the communities are beneficial. Previously, the communal leaders were not consulted or involved in the activities carried out by the projects in the villages of my commune,” stated M Ignace Kone, mayor of the Benena commune in the region of Segou, central Mali.
He continued: “The participative aspect developed within my commune allowed us to create a synergy between us and the populations, and will above all guarantee in the future the sustainability of the project…the changes are visible, for example in the village of Diarakuy or Socialo. I saw groups forming and putting into practice the new techniques of the project. Before, everything was done individually.”
According to Hamadoun Traore, the Mayor of the municipality of Sio in the region of Mopti, “Since the beginning of the activities, we have been involved, even in the choice of villages. Everyone is involved, and so we have a common vision. Now the communication is fluid between us and communities, no one is discarded.”
Recipients Converted to Protagonists
The community-based approach has succeeded in changing the perception of the role of each party involved – community leaders and populations – in the management of natural resources, as the responsibilities have been shared between the different partners. It has thus allowed communities to take control of their future by making the decisions and implementing the actions required to improve their living conditions and how they exploit resources.
Each of the 30 project villages has a climate change adaptation committee, which have all been closely involved at different levels and stages of the process, including the analysis of constraints and priorities; the design and programming of actions to be undertaken, the realization, management and monitoring and evaluation of the entire project.
“We learned a lot of resilience techniques. Today I can say with confidence that we are resilient thanks to the project,” stated Drame Traore, Mayor of Massantola commune in the Koulikoro region of southeastern Mali.
“We have noticed that the villagers are well organized, invested and motivated. We really feel that they are able to sustain our achievements because the immediate effects and changes of the project are already very visible in the behavior of the populations in the face of reality…the other neighboring villages are very jealous,” he quipped.
“Today, we all know our role and take it very seriously, before we move forward in a vacuum and suffer all the shocks related to the climate without knowing what to do,” explained Mamadou Diarra, a farmer in the village of Mpesseribougou in the region of Koulikoro.
The mayor of the municipality of Massantola in the Koulikoro region stated, “We are really satisfied with the new content of the social and economic development plan, but especially the action plan because it meets the expectations and needs of my community,” said the mayor of the municipality of Massantola Koulikoro region.
“We had the opportunity to express our needs, and I was even present the day of the development of the program of activities,” said Fadjigui Coulibaly, a farmer in the village of Manta. “We also chose ourselves our activities to subsidize. In my village, we mainly focused on cattle fattening, small ruminants breeding or the grain trade. These are activities that will generate income and will make us autonomous. Our village has already received 16 sheep for fattening,” he added.
The project’s grant activities have started, and several villages have already benefited from the first round of funding, a big step towards a much-desired resilience.
The Waati Yelema Labenw project is funded by DFIDs BRACED initiative and focuses on building climate change resiliency for vulnerable populations in Mali. You can find this story, as well as other BRACED-funded project success stories on their website, www.braced.org.