Clusters and hubs link gardens, nutrition and health in Mali
On 24 April 2017, a USAID Health Team led by Fatimata Ouattara, Project Manager Specialist at USAID Health in Bamako, visited the WorldVeg Sirakoroba Vegetable Technology Immersion Cluster (VTIC) in Sikasso, Mali. The group received a quick overview of activities implemented by the USAID/Mali Scaling project, in which WorldVeg is efficiently integrating agriculture, nutrition, WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) and health components.
Activities aim to ensure project beneficiaries understand the links between the four components, and that by addressing them as a whole, the health and nutrition of the entire household can be improved.
In other project activities, a field day was organized in Djalé, a satellite village linked to Molobala Best Practice Hub in Sikasso, on 4 March 2017. The Sous-prefect of Molobala, accompanied by a large delegation composed of local administrative and municipal authorities, representatives of national and regional agricultural development services, NGOs, and farmers’ organization representatives were the guests of honor representing the prefect of Koutiala (Photo 3). About 850 adults (approximately 350 women) participated in the event, which received extensive coverage on national television.
At the beginning, Dialé was not a target village for the USAID/Mali Scaling project. However, after learning about the project, village leaders made a formal request for project activities to be implemented in Dialé. Even before project activities were scheduled to begin, they sent some people to attend nutrition and production training in Molobala. Dialé allocated a two-hectare plot for vegetable production and mobilized community members to involve themselves in all project activities. A community support group was established to implement and monitor behavior change communication activities for nutrition, WASH and maternal and child health, and reports to the nearest WorldVeg field technician.
Based on knowledge acquired during group and individual discussions, Madou Diallo from Darabougou village decided to establish a home garden of 80 m² in 2016. The first year, he grew tomato, hot pepper, okra and lettuce. With income generated from selling surplus produce, he bought wire mesh to protect his home garden from straying livestock. So far this year he has produced tomato, African eggplant, hot pepper and okra—and he has convinced 6 men and 20 women to start their own home gardens.
Story and photos: Caroline Sobgui