Women in Diallassagou, Mali. IRD
On a rainy but celebratory day in Diallassagou, a village in the Mopti region of Mali, women shimmy to the sound of a drum.
They are rejoicing about fruit tree seedlings, which they will plant in their market garden. Seedlings have been planted to form a line of trees around the market garden, which is managed by 127 women from the village.
In the country’s rural areas, women work in the fields but do not have as many rights as men relating to the land or its produce. That leaves them more vulnerable than men to climate shocks and stresses.
To remedy this, International Relief and Development (IRD) assessed communities’ – particularly women’s – vulnerability to climate change, as part of the Building Resilience and Adaptation to Climate Extremes and Disasters (BRACED) programme. It is now helping them acquire trees that will thrive in Mali’s semi-arid climate.
Species coveted by the women include baobab, jujube, and moringa; all grow well in Mali’s hot and dry environment. Other than protecting the garden, the trees will allow women to grow fruit which they can sell or save for their families.
Both leaves and fruit are in demand in the local market. A kilo of the popular jujube fruit costs about 1,000 CFA francs (about $2). That is significant for a country where income per capita averages $1.80 per day.
Until now, the women had not been able to plant seedlings in the area for lack of resources. The trees will be planted with the help of a local forestry and water extension agent supported by BRACED.
The women gather in small groups around the agent and listen carefully to his instructions on caring for trees. They ask: “How do we plant them, and how do we look after young trees?” and “How do we best harvest the fruits?”
Fanta Yossi, president of the village’s women’s group, says the women now have a better appreciation of the trees’ value are and that they will help improve their families’ health and finances.
“We’ll be able to use the trees’ fruit as goods to build an income and ultimately become independent financially,” she said. “What’s more, an orchard of fruit trees will ensure more food at a cheaper price, helping prevent malnutrition in children.”
Under BRACED, the women also learned agroforestry techniques – such as preparing a site for planting or maintaining young seedlings.
Anxious to reap the benefits of their new tree plantation, a group of five women established a monitoring committee for the plantation – to keep predators such as animals at bay, among other objectives.