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Sustaining Food Production


The Sahel, or southern ‘shore’ of the Sahara desert is home to some 300 million people.  Global temperatures in the Sahel are rising faster than anywhere else and the IPCC is currently predicting a six degree rise in temperature. 


Most people in this area live from the land and Mali is one of the 20 countries most vulnerable to climate change.


In many areas, topsoil has disappeared (2 photos)

In the last 40 years, 60% of topsoil and 70% of pasture resources have been lost.  


In recent years, large numbers of people have been forced to migrate within Mali because their land has become too poor to support them. This is an area that has been peaceful for hundreds of years, but conflicts over scarce natural resources and water are growing.


Sandstorms which used to happen once or twice a year now happen dozens of times a year. 

Droughts, floods and winds which carry away topsoil are increasing. Joliba is working to sustain rural livelihoods and reduce migration by working with communities to improve their land, and to provide secure water resources.  


Our work includes dune stabilisation, well-building, tree and pasture regeneration, providing seed for more varied crops and sustainable livestock-raising.

Preventing Food Crises

Farming communities in Mali are immensely resourceful, but increasing droughts are making people far poorer.  In years of failed crops we provide some of the resources people need so that they can stay in their villages so that they do not have to become refugees.

‘We were a self-sufficient village in terms of food.  Every year we were sending millet to Koundou to help people there.  But today our granaries are empty and we have lost our livestock.  Normally when we are hungry, we sell our animals to buy cereals. 


'We received 9 bags of good millet.  We will keep one bag for seed to plant crops and 8 bags will give us the strength to farm.  Thanks to you we will be able to cultivate our fields.  You have saved us.'


Pascal Diarra, Diangoudia



Antoine Doumbo:


'We were very hungry.  Our only food was millet flour in water once a day.  We allowed only the children to drink this 3 times a day.  Your help arrived when it was most needed.'



Marcel Dara:


'We have really suffered during two successive years. It was difficult to sleep, and when we were sick we had no means to go for treatment, but it was the hunger that exhausted us. 

'I received 5 and a half bags (of millet) for my family.  We will keep 53 kg for the seed for next year’s crops and we will consume the rest for at least 3 months, which will give us the strength to farm. Thank you for your sympathy and consideration for us or when everyone forgot us.'

Working With Communities To Regenerate Soil Fertility

Stone contour walls


Stone contour walls help to hold water and regenerate topsoil that is carried in the monsoon rains


A field that has recovered with the use of stone lines

'My neighbour built stone lines and when he harvested well, I built stone lines for all my plots. I was surprised by the amount of cereals and beans harvested. I was able to have ten cartloads of millet that will feed my family for 9 months, while in the previous year I collected 5 cartloads.


'I thank Joliba for allowing me to grow more cereals that can feed my family for 4 and a half months longer.'

Tabièma Kassogue, Farmer in Kansongo, district of Wadouba

Half-moon basins


Each half moon basin is filled with compost-rich soil into which crops are sown.  Rainwater is held so that even if there is a 15-day gap in rainfall the soil remains humid.  This is a means of growing crops in areas where even weeds will not grow.

Boureima Ongoïba, Ingre:

'I never succeeded in growing more than 8 cartloads, but with the half-moons, this year I harvested 12 cartloads of millet. The millet harvested contains more seeds.  In addition, the seeds are large and this can feed my family all year round.'


Reclaiming the desert using pocket-planting

Compost making


Using new techniques, compost can be made in just 30 days

People are working extremely hard to produce compost to improve their soil, compost makes crop production much more successful even in years of poor rainfall. 


A compost-making team

Boukari TOGO, Kani-Bonzon:

'We have poor, degraded farmland. Even in years of good rainfall, I never exceeded 5 cartloads of grain. This year I prepared 100 loads of compost and I collected 8 cartloads, which led me to build a new granary. My harvest will allow me to feed my family for 14 months.'


Distributing compost on field areas

Hassana Togo:

'I was born and raised in Balaguina, I sold 2 large rams every year to buy fertilizer for my plot.  It was during Joliba’s awareness sessions that I understood that fertilizer depletes the (fragile) soil in the long run. 


I immediately opted for composting and put 120 loads on my land.  I collected 11 loads of millet as opposed to 8 loads with fertiliser.  I also collected 3 bags of sorrel. Not only did I not have to sell my sheep, but also I collected 3 more loads.'



Binta Togo, Tawanongou:


'After using the compost I doubled my yields and gained 200 kg of peanuts, 25 kilos of hibiscus and 50 kg of cowpeas. The peanuts will be sold and the hibiscus seeds will be used as condiments for the sauce.'



Abdina Poudiougo, Bondo:

'I grow millet, groundnuts, fonio and beans. In response to the reduction and poor distribution of the rains, we have formed a society of cereal producers.  Thanks to Joliba our society has been trained in compost-making. We no longer use expensive fertiliser but our yields have almost doubled.'



Garibou Poudiougo:

'Compost-making saved me £740.00 as I did not have to buy millet.'


A millet field treated with compost in Tawanogo

Yamono Kassogue, Moh-leye:

'Every year I grow okra, groundnuts and sorrel.  Since I made compost my peanut harvest has quadrupled, and the okra and sorrel have more than doubled. In all I have earned £54. With this I bought two sacks of baobab leaves for £18 and the rest of the money was used to buy dried and smoked fish, salt, oil, dried onions and soap for the family.'

More Viable Seeds In A Changing Climate


Early-ripening millet

As the rainy season is less predictable, we have been experimenting with varieties of more drought-resistant millet and sorghum crop seeds from drier areas of Mali. These old-fashioned seeds grow fast and crop within a shorter period. 


People have been pleased with their yields and there is now a huge demand for these seeds.  Volunteer families have been involved with seed propagation and over 2 tons of seeds were available for planting in the last agricultural season.


Harvesting faster-growing Sorghum

Whatever you give will make a big difference.

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