Climate Change & Improving Livelihoods
Climate change is one of the greatest challenges currently facing Mali. Droughts which used to occur every two or three decades now occur every few years. Poorer, degraded soils mean that many people can no longer grow enough food.
Dead millet crops on the Dogon plains
We are working with local communities to reverse these problems through land and natural resource management schemes. This includes tree and pasture regeneration, soil and water conservation, reviving biodiversity for the essential resources people need, and dune stabilisation.
Please scroll through this page to see the variety of our main environmental/livelihood work we have been involved in, as well as following the news blog (or our social media sites) for new projects we undertake in response to new challenges.
Planting dunes to protect fertile land
Protection of forests – wood markets, stoves & surveillance
In rural Mali, people are dependent on tree resources for their survival. They provide a lot of nutritious food sources from their leaves, fruit, oils and nuts, and they contribute to food security when crops fail. Trees provide most of the medicines that people can afford to use, as well as providing wood for everyday tools, the structure of houses, and fuel for cooking. Their leaves and fruits are vital as cattle fodder. Tree resources also make up a substantial part of people’s income.
We are supporting tree planting and regeneration which is having an extraordinary impact. Within the space of a few years, millions of new trees are now growing in our area. This has been achieved by planting from tree nurseries, by supporting natural regeneration, by training in sustainable cutting and harvesting, and by creating areas of ‘set aside’. We are also working with fuel-efficient cooking stoves and in wood markets so that local communities can sustain existing forest.
Trees such as Acacia improve crop yields and prevent wind and soil erosion. Their leaves fall before the rainy season to make compost so that crops can better-withstand long gaps in rainfall and they have nitrogen-fixing roots.
1) Village wood markets so that sustainable timber is sold in a way that is controlled and retains profits locally
Training in sustainable forestry
A fuel-efficient mud stove to reduce wood consumption
It is exciting to see that the areas which had become degraded are already regenerating, and ancient forests and unique seed sources have been protected for future generations.
Regenerating trees by assisting natural growth
A 15 year old windbreak has tripled topsoil depth in adjoining fields
Tree nurseries & tree planting
One popular species is Jatropha curcas, because its seeds can be sold as a source of revenue for fuel, and because the leaves make excellent compost that increases crop yields by 30%. We are grateful to our partner ‘Projet Pourghere’ for the seeds, who have also offered to fund a grain mill and electrification scheme in a village as an example of what can be done with Jatropha oil.
Volunteers planting trees
Many Baobab trees have also been grown. The dried leaves and fruits of Baobab trees are part of the staple accompaniment to millet in the region. Zizyphus and Acacia raddiana have also been grown in large quantities. The fruit can be harvested after 4-5 years to provide nutritious feed for cattle, and they are also useful for dune stabilisation. People are particularly keen to expand Zizyphus-planting in 2013 because it bears fruits even during severe droughts and is valuable for famine-prevention.
Several million trees have been planted and regenerated
Income-generating fruit trees have been chosen by women’s groups including mango, papaya, orange, date, and grafted moringa and tamarind trees for quick fruiting. School children have planted many new trees in their playgrounds for food, boundaries and shade. A small ‘botanical garden’ has been started by children in one of the larger schools in the area to help them learn about trees. It has 31 different varieties of trees and a small nursery managed by the children to help them to raise pocket money.
Papaya trees bear fruit at just 6 months old
Bee-keeping forms an important aspect of our forestry programme, helping to increase pollination of crops and promoting biodiversity.
As honey is so highly sought after, selling for £1.50/kilo, it also contributes as very useful income generation to help sustain ongoing forestry protection and regeneration projects.
A beehive – bees help pollination and their honey provides sustainable income
Joliba’s work on dune stabilisation in the area has been pioneering and has been greatly appreciated in the region. Many Dogon villages are located at the base of cliffs of a massive plateau, because the valley farming land there is far more fertile, and the water table much shallower. The cliff area supports a significant part of the Dogon population, and has been inhabited for centuries, but is now being covered by sand from dunes that have formed beside the valley.
Dunes encroaching on fertile valley land
Recent unprecedented heavy rain and flash floods in have done much environmental damage, creating many new erosion gullies, and washing sand from the dunes onto crop land. In one month, 1,600 families lost their homes, granaries and all their cattle and other vital investments.
Erosion gullies caused by torrential rain
Since the dune stabilisation project started in 2004, over 100 hectares of sand dunes have been planted to protect the farming livelihoods of c26,000 people.
Collecting deep-rooting Entrepogon grass seeds for stabilising sand dunes
Dune planting below the Dogon cliffs
Dune stabilisation work is urgent for many more villages along the fertile valley who are losing their land. It costs £10 to plant a 10 sq metres of dunes. Please help a village to retain their fertile land! click here if you would like to contribute to this vital work.
A compost pit