For WFP, the resilience of a community is measured by its capacity to prevent, resist and respond to unexpected challenges (shocks) and to recover from and adapt to them in a sustainable way. In regions of Mali that are beginning to emerge from the recent series of crises, WFP is working with communities to ensure they have the ability to be resilient in the face of future shocks.
Many of the resilience projects currently underway in Mali have been made possible thanks to funding from the European Union. The EU and WFP are working together to find the most effective means of building long-term, sustainable solutions to food insecurity and malnutrition in Mali.
In the region of Ségou, WFP and its partner, World Vision, have been working with the villagers of Dorolo since February of 2013.
Before getting to work, WFP and a group of community representatives sat down to discuss the specific challenges facing their community and what sorts of projects would be most effective for them.
The community told WFP that their main problems were a lack of food and rain. Without sufficient water, they explained, agriculture was difficult and food hard to come by.
Taking the First Step
Together, WFP and the community decided that the first step toward building their long-term food security would be to create a grove of fruit trees and a market garden, which would be run mainly by the women of Dorola. To make this project possible, WFP would help them build several water wells, a water pump and a composting area, where villagers would learn to create organic fertilizer for their own use and for sale.
When we visited in November of 2014, the trees were still too young to bear fruit. However, women had individual plots where they were growing vegetables to feed their families.
Demouny Diarra, a mother of five, told us that she and her family have really benefited from the garden project.
"Before this project – I can’t even tell you – there were so many problems. Especially for women – we were so tired. After the harvest, all the women would go to the interior of the country to work as cleaning ladies so they could buy food for their children,” she explains. “But, with the garden, what do we have? Food!” she laughs. “You see that plot of trees and peppers over there?” she asks, pointing. “That’s mine. Since starting this work, I haven’t had to pay anything at the market."
Building resilience requires attacking the root causes of food insecurity and malnutrition from multiple angles.
The community of Dorola also told WFP that the villagers had already started building a new, more direct road to make it easier to get to and from the local market. They explained that work was slow going as able-bodied workers also have families to feed and weren’t able to devote much time to the project.
Food for Assets
WFP has seen first-hand how food assistance for assets – using food, cash or vouchers – can result in immediate gains for food security. To support the community in achieving their goal, WFP provided family food rations to those working on the road so that they could complete the project more quickly without having to worry about how they would feed their families.
On a recent visit to the village, the Mayor, Yaya Traore, told WFP
We have many challenges here in our community, including a lack of food and rain. This road has helped us deal with our food problems because now we can easily transport food home from the market.
Mr. Traore also told WFP that the community has created a committee, which is responsible for ensuring the upkeep of the road, and he has set up a fund in the village’s budget to pay for its regular maintenance.
A Bright and Independent Future
Etienne Dembele, one of the community project managers, said these projects have gotten people excited for the future and he let us in on some of the village’s plans:
“What we’d like to do next is start cultivating rice. We’re thinking of building a dam to block the water, which would give us a pond to grow rice. Being able to grow and eat our own rice – that’s our hope.”
WFP is currently working with communities similar to Dorola across Mali – helping them build their resilience, improve food security and reduce malnutrition in the process. WFP intends to continue working with and supporting these communities until they can be self-sufficient.