The village of Bougoula in the Koulikoro Region is far off the beaten track. Isolated and difficult to reach, it is one of the poorest villages in Mali. Years of drought and erratic rains had reduced the reserves of this Sahel community to zero. In a 2010 survey, 7% of children under 5 in Bougoula were severely malnourished and almost 20% of children were unable to perform at school because they were hungry.
In an effort to make families more food secure and financially independent, Plan initiated a programme to promote groundnut cultivation in 2011. Groundnuts were chosen because of their nutritional and market value combined with relative ease to grow, and are also featured ingredients in several traditional dishes.
For three months, 25 women participated in a training programme learning techniques of selecting, preparing and maintaining fields. The women learned how to use their crops to provide food for their families and also to supplement their income to purchase diverse food items, education and health care.
Sitan expressed her pride and relief and the benefits of the project: “For four months, the quality of food in my household has improved. We use the peanuts in our food and sell part of the crop at the local market. The money I earn allows me to purchase other foods and ensure school fees and children’s health.”
The current food insecurity crisis gripping Mali is not felt so strongly here. People are more secure, settled and confident. There is food and commerce because of the groundnut cultivation programme. Over the course of five years and with US $5.5 million in support, Plan Mali hopes to expand this programme to another 292 villages with nearly 1.7 million residents in areas prone to food insecurity, helping communities become more food secure and resilient to disaster.