This year Joliba has worked in Central Mali on well-building, dune stabilisation, beekeeping, agro-ecology, tree-planting and rewilding. We also worked in South Mali, where we funded tree-planting (the trees there are growing very fast!), land improvement, provision of better seed crops, youth employment, women's income generation and training in conflict prevention. We are always amazed how much our partners in Mali achieve with modest funds.
Siaka Bere from S Mali says: 'Joliba, with their activities of tree planting, compost-making and improving the fertility of our land using contour walls, is the hope of (the district of) Yorosso. Growing cotton has ruined us and made us poor. It destroyed our environment and in every village there are families who lost their livestock to the chemicals we were using on the cotton plants which either got into the ponds or the pasture. Everyone wants to work on Joliba's projects and to plant trees, which are everyone's fundamental need. I have earned £750 from selling saplings from our nursery. The money has allowed me to send my son to college and to pay his fees for professional training and to buy a water pump to water my plants'
However, it has been an unimaginably difficult year. An influx of armed criminal groups meant that communities in our main project area in Central Mali were robbed of all their livestock - their only bank account – and were prevented from farming. As soon as people went to their fields they were shot and thousands of people lost their lives.
There have also been unprecedented monsoon rains which flooded a vast area. This has destroyed over half the crops, caused numerous earth-dug wells to collapse and 26,000 people have lost their homes.
Here is a letter from one of the villages in our area:
'We come to ask you if you would be able to help us with food aid. For three years we have been unable to farm. Our village is near a group of bandits who have attacked us 8 times and killed 4 people in the village. The bandits have taken away all of our animals - 908 cattle, 312 pigs, 5 camels and 12 donkeys.
Normally if we have a poor harvest, we can sell our animals buy grain. Today we have no animals. We have lost everything and we have become very poor so we must start again from zero. Nonetheless we are lucky because we are not dead.
In 2018 and 2019 we were able to sell our animals so that we could buy grain which allowed us to survive. Today we have nothing and we need help as otherwise we will be obliged to leave our village and we have no-where to go.
In the hope of a favourable response, we thank you in advance.'
We would like to wish you a wonderful Christmas, and know the lovely people of Mali would want to send you their warmest greetings too. As our project area in Central Mali has become one of the poorest and most vulnerable parts of the world, we would be most grateful for any support you could give us.