Bouncing back after COVID-19
In the Segou region of central Mali, village women are learning about best practices and investing savings together to build resilience in their families and communities.
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It's the day for the women’s gathering. Like every Thursday, the women in Banido village in the Segou Region in central Mali, gather to discuss their concerns. When we arrive Aramatou Koulibali welcomes us. Aramatou is the president of Djekafor, which means "Together we can communicate better" in Bambara the local language. She invites us to sit on one of the benches made from tree trunks. The women from the area arrive and sit in the shaded shelter. They take advantage of this gathering to form a tontine, a traditional savings group. They each contribute 100 CFA francs (0.16 USD) per week. Each of them takes turns receiving the total amount contributed for the week and invests it as she needs.
With repeated humanitarian crises, insecurity, and the COVID-19 pandemic, economic activities have slowed down for rural populations in Mali and neighbouring countries. UNICEF and its partners, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the German Development Bank (KfW), have committed to supporting the tontines by providing them with funds as part of the regional project "Responding to COVID-19 pandemic through social protection systems in the Sahel".
"The transfer of funds that we receive has allowed us to get by on different levels: to buy school supplies for the children at the beginning of the school year, to complete our business, to increase our capital. The well-being provided by these funds is invaluable."
The women of Banido received two transfers totalling 90,000 CFA (142 USD). Aramatou opens the group's cash box. She takes stock of the contributions and testifies: "The funds received are very beneficial, I can't even say all what we do with this money, it's a lot!"
She takes us to see the herd acquired by the women. Each woman is happy to show us the animals, the poultry and even the garden they have planted, including the bananas that are growing well.
"We were able to send Mariam Traoré, a member of the group, to Bamako for training in animal husbandry and milk conservation. We covered her travel and living expenses during the training."
It is also during these gatherings that they share information and participate in awareness sessions on vaccination and the fight against COVID-19, about nutrition, hygiene or children's education, for the improvement of their quality of life and that of their families. The transfers contribute to strengthening the resilience, knowledge and capacities of women in Malian villages. This challenge has now been met in Banido.