Mali is among the countries most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Agriculture, the main source of livelihood for a great number of Malians, is threatened by desertification, water shortage and the shortening of rainy season.
Mali's biggest forest and mineral reserves are located in Sikasso, the southernmost region in the country. The most pressing environmental issues in the region are commercial forest harvesting, cotton farming with agricultural chemicals, and the negative impacts of gold mining.
The aim of the Mali cooperation programme is to reduce environmental threats, to protect natural diversity and to mitigate the effects of climate change. The programme also aims to improve the prospects of rural people, women in particular, in influencing decisions and policies regarding the environment and natural resources.
The programme is implemented in cooperation with the NGO Mali-Folkecenter Nyetaa (MFC Nyetaa). Under the programme, three centres of excellence have been established in the Sikasso region: Finkolo-Ganadougou, Garalo and Filamana. The centres provide information on sustainable ways of using natural resources, such as traditional and environmentally friendly cultivation techniques. Decentralisation of natural resource management is a central theme. The operations are run by the Sigida Nyetaa ('environmental change') Committees composed of environmental actors, representatives of women's organisations, and traditional village leaders.
The Siemenpuu Foundation provides funding for micro projects implemented by the committees. Through these projects, forest guards have been trained to listed forests, organic farming has been promoted as an alternative to gold mining, an environmental radio station and a cooperative energy kiosk have been established, soil fertility and food security have been improved, and so on.
MFC Nyetaa has actively participated in the making of a national environmental agreement between the government and the civil society. In Sikasso, an unofficial but binding local agreement has been made to delineate rules for natural resource management through perpetual community dialogue. The Sigida Nyetaa Committees monitor environmental problems in their regions and make initiatives to solve these problems.
Also, an annual National Environmental Forum is organised in which dialogue is initiated between participants from different sectors such as the government, organisations and villages. Topics discussed include current environmental issues with regard to e.g. climate change, local economy and citizen participation.
Publications from the supported projects
Siemenpuu's partner Mali Folkecenter in the context of the Siemenpuu supported Sigida Nyetaa programme has made a 14 min documentary on artesanal gold extractivism in the municipality of Finkolo, Sikasso, and on the efforts on other economy building.