In the press
Les femmes du Mali génèrent des revenus en milieu rural - English Summary
10 December 1999
Bonn, Germany: The typical woman in Mali is responsible for daily domestic needs. She wears many hats, namely as household manager, farm worker in the fields, salesperson at the market or along village streets and pottery artist. She possesses the skills necessary and useful in many areas of development. N'na Marie Lokou, a UNV field worker, has identified these vital human resources. She is working on a project to generate income among women in the northern district of Diré, near Timbuktu.
"I spend the whole day working together with the women," she says. "My task is to pass on what I have learned through my experiences. I am also pleased to be able to learn so much from the women in return." N'na Marie Lokou, who holds a degree in social work and public health, has been working as a UN Volunteer in Diré for the past two years. The 500,000 people living in the region of Timbuktu are among the poorest citizens in the landlocked West African country. The people are mostly farmers, livestock herders or artisans.
The Togolese field worker brings technical assistance to the women of Diré. She has brought together groups of potters, bakers, confectioners, and gardeners to help market their products. "When I got started with my activities," she says, "each woman was working alone at home using traditional know-how." Through careful training, the women learned techniques to transform their raw materials into economic power.
The Annya Association focuses its energies on ways to work with wheat. Flour is produced in the traditional way. Women sift the grains in huge wicker baskets. Then they pound the grains with stones to make the wheat ready to use in bread and cakes. These products are either used in the home or sold on local markets. "The women have worked hard and shown enthusiasm even during difficult times in their training and production," she says.
The UN Volunteer has likewise stimulated women belonging to the Pottery Association of Longguel. As raw materials are expensive to buy, these women have learned to use natural resources found in their immediate environs.
The association makes bricks out of donkey dung, balls of rice, clay and water to use in the construction of rural dwellings. Women also work creatively, making ceramic pots that they can sell, using techniques learned from the UNV.
Members of the Women in Development group explore ways to produce -- in ways to boost efficiency and profit -- plants for reforestation and garden vegetables, such as tomatoes, potatoes and capsicum (for hot pepper). The vegetables are sold on local markets. "During the training period, I gave nutritional advice and showed the women how to cook in a clean manner, especially for the sake of the children," she notes. N'na Marie Lokou speaks highly of the women attached to the three associations. She observes that the participants have shown perseverance in their various projects, which not only bring personal satisfaction but also income for the well-being of their families.
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