Mon. Mar 4th, 2024

In Mali, mango production basins were cut off from the rest of the country during the rainy season; Financed by the World Bank through the International Development Association (IDA), the project has helped build bridges, culverts, and inverts, and opened the way for the transportation of mangoes to the market and job creation; Visits to health centers have quadrupled in the project area.

Located deep in the interior of the Bougouni region to the south of Bamako, the villages of Doussoudiana, Kémissala, and Bembougou are now accessible year-round, which allows residents to sell their crops. The region, known for its famous and delicious mangoes, recently received infrastructure and equipment to help improve the production and sale of its fruits.

At the entrance to the villages lies a small, fully collapsed bridge, a vestige of the 1980s. This bridge used to connect these villages to the rest of the country and was often completely submerged in water because it was not sufficiently elevated. As a result, many villages were cut off from the rest of the country during the rainy season. As Dibi Sidibé, the mayor of Bolo Fouta, put it: “We were isolated and cut off for a long time. But we never gave up and looked for ways to get our community out of this situation.”

Since early 2022, infrastructure construction under the Mali Support to Agro-Industrial Competitiveness Project (PACAM), which is being financed by the World Bank through the International Development Association (IDA), has improved accessibility to this area. The project has rehabilitated 300 kilometers of rural roads and infrastructure to facilitate access to production basins in the districts (cercles) of Sikasso, Bougouni, and Yanfolila. The project works, which were fully transferred to the General Directorate of Roads on June 26, 2023, have opened up access to more than 72 villages in 15 communes with a total population of 431,369, and 137 connectivity structures such as inverts, multiple culverts, portal bridges, and frame bridges.

These new developments have resulted in an economic rebound. The bridges, culverts, and inverts have facilitated travel and trade between local communities, increasing mango production by more than 35,0000 tons per year and creating 362 jobs. The project has also supported mango processing units, many of which are owned by women, by training and providing these women with equipment.

Now, villagers are once again feeling upbeat. Souleymane Sangaré, the village chief of Bolo Fouta, told a jubilant community on the day the infrastructure facilities were inaugurated that “building a road for someone is like breathing new life into that person.” Decked out in a tricolor sash, the mayor of Bolo Fouta added: “This improved access marks an important milestone for our community.”

A number of indicators in critical sectors such as health are now positive. Dr. Boubacar Toungara, who has been in charge of the health center in Bolo Fouta for the past five years, has witnessed firsthand how “this road has had a positive impact on referrals of patients to hospitals.” The number of newborn deaths in the village has declined sharply, falling from five deaths in previous years to one, thanks to regular screening of pregnant women. For Dr. Toungara, this “good news” is part of an overall trend observed in the villages covered by the project. According to him, “the number of patient visits to the health center has quadrupled from 100 to 400 per month because neighboring villages now have easy access to the health center.”

The high hopes raised by the project, as well as the impact of its achievements which have been acknowledged by the beneficiary communities, have won over the technical adviser to the Minister of Rural Development, Mr. Mouhamed Diarra: “The project has helped boost Malian mango exports. Based on its performance, the government is asking the World Bank to consider extending it.”

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of The World Bank Group.

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