Islamic Relief is at the forefront of responding to one of the most grave but often overlooked crisis in the world, points out a new publication highlighting our work in Mali.

Poverty, insecurity and climate change

In the west African country 50% of the population lives in extreme poverty, and 1 in 4 people do not know where their next meal is coming from.

Escalating violence and insecurity is affecting over 8 million people and has forced countless families to flee their homes. Climate change has also devastated livelihoods, and many people are now struggling to survive.

Islamic Relief provided Gabkoro with a cash voucher so he could buy essential items after his farmland and food stocks were destroyed by flash flooding.

Our work in Mali includes emergency relief, water, sanitation and hygiene, food security and livelihoods, maternal care, child wellbeing and protection, and seasonal food distributions.

Adapting to climate change and creating reliable incomes

We’ve helped over 100,000 people earn a reliable living in the face of climate change. We install water facilities and irrigate farmland, as well as offering access to grants and Islamic microfinance so families can lift themselves out of poverty. We empower women to break through barriers to achieve financial independence.

One project serving 1,700 families across 10 villages has brought together local women in a cooperative and provided them with training and seeds. We installed irrigation systems in new community vegetable gardens, and helped women establish a stronger voice in their communities.

“I am very happy and satisfied that I can earn something myself” says Sitan, from Komi-Komi village, who has increased her income by 800% through an Islamic Relief project. “Today our village leaders consult us. They seek our advice, our contribution.”

Helping children thrive

We create safe spaces for children to learn in Mali. One such scheme benefited 500 children in six villages. In Siramana village the dilapidated conditions of the school meant most parents kept their children away as those that attended faced sunstroke and snakes as they studied outdoors.

Islamic Relief built new school buildings complete with toilet blocks, drinking facilities and a children’s playground. We facilitated specialist training for teachers and school management staff to deliver quality education, tackle gender-based violence and child protection issues.

“Now with the new school we are so happy. We can stay and study,” says Mamadou, 12.

Lifesaving maternity care

Mali is one of the world’s most dangerous countries in which to give birth. Health facilities and quality maternity care are in short supply, while poor nutrition, limited access to safe water and diseases such as malaria fuel the challenges.

Islamic Relief has built a new maternity centre with vital equipment, ambulances, medicine and trained staff, as well as solar-powered electricity and water systems. We are also tackling social and cultural norms that prevent Malian woman from using formal health services, so that as many women and children as possible benefit.

“In the maternity centre you receive some care from the midwife, but at home you are left to yourself,” says Worodje, a week after giving birth to her fifth baby, Karim. “If there was no maternity centre it may lead to a stillborn baby, or even the death of the mother. The new maternity centre was a joy for me.”

Protecting women and children at risk of harm

According to the UN, 91% of women and girls in Mali have undergone female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C). More than half of all girls are married before their 18th birthday, and over a third of all females have experienced violence at the hands of an intimate partner.

Islamic Relief uses an innovative faith-based approach, Channels of Hope, to engage communities in Mali to tackle gender-based violence, address child protection issues and push for positive change.

In one neighbourhood, incidents of FGM/C fell from 100% to 5%. In addition, the project persuaded seven FGM/C practitioners to give up the practice. School attendance rose, particularly among girls, while rates of violence against women fell, as did early and forced marriage.

“I hope every woman benefits from the same understanding,” says Bintou, 46, who was inspired by Islamic Relief reject FGM/C, early forced marriage and other forms of gender-based violence. She’s now a community activist speaking out against the practices.

The coronavirus pandemic is adding further strain on Mali’s resilient communities, and Islamic Relief has remained by their side. Interventions have included distributing soap and facemasks, and educating people to better protect themselves from the virus.

Read ‘Islamic Relief in Mali’ today to learn more, and donate now to help us continue supporting those in need in Mali and around the world.