Building a Women's Center in Nebkit, Mali

by World Food Program USA
A mother embraces her daughter in Mali
A mother embraces her daughter in Mali

Mali, in comparison with other least-developed nations in Africa, has been remarkably politically stable since its first democratic elections in 1992. Nonetheless, it remains one of the poorest countries in the world, and 29 percent of the population suffers from undernutrition. Right now, Mali is suffering from its worst drought in 26 years – devastating animals, crops, and the subsistence lifestyles of its inhabitants.

While Mali has made some strides toward development, it is in urgent need of assistance from WFP. Impressively, the overall literacy rate in Mali rose from 22.8 percent in 2001-2002 to 26.3 percent in 2004-2005 – meaning that in just three years, nearly half a million Malians learned to read. Unfortunately, the benefits were reaped only for the male population, as huge gender disparities continue to exist in Malian education: the proportion of literate women actually decreased over that same period, from 16.7 to 15.9 percent. In Mali, WFP is working hard to promote gender parity, especially in education. The women’s center in Nebkit will increase literacy among the female population, and improve the skills needed for self-sustainability. In addition, the income generated from selling their handicrafts will allow women to be more economically independent, and thus decrease their reliance on children’s help to complete household duties (children, then, will have a greater opportunity to enroll in and attend school).

As you can see, the women’s center will be tremendously beneficial to the Nebkit community; but, in order for it to be implemented fully, WFP needs your help. With generous donors like you, the women of Nebkit will be able to educate themselves, and to improve the livelihoods of their families and the status of the village as a whole. Thank you for your support!

School feeding in Mali
School feeding in Mali

An estimated 69 percent of the population in Mali lives below the poverty line. These people are concentrated mainly in rural areas, like Nebkit, and are mostly women. Chronic and acute malnutrition rates among infants are high and over 50 percent of infant deaths are caused by malnutrition. The main causes of these nutritional problems are inadequate diets, poor nutritional practices, and frequent infections. However, the high levels of poverty and illiteracy, especially among women, also greatly contribute to the high mortality rate. Within this context, ensuring that local capacities are strengthened through training programs is critical to the long-term sustainability of health and nutrition interventions in Mali.

The World Food Program’s school feeding campaign in Mali successfully reached 108,524 children in 712 schools during the 2007-2008 school year. Due to WFP’s school meals, enrollment has increase 30% in the assisted schools. The daily meal encourages parents to let their children attend school classes regularly, and also helps children concentrate on their lessons.

In addition to the meals, Malian girls in grades five and six receive eight liters of vegetable oil each quarter as an incentive for regular attendance. This helps contribute to the household budget and parents are even more likely to send their daughters to school. School feeding not only improves the nutrition of children in Mali, but also empowers them with educational opportunities.

The Nebkit Women’s Center will have a similar benefit on the community as does WFP’s school feeding program. The center will empower women by providing them with a place for education, training and work. Women will learn good nutritional practices to care for themselves and their children. The center will also allow for a place to work and it will increase revenue generating activities. This will improve households’ standard of living and enable the women to contribute to their children’s education. Thank you for your generous support to this project! We will certainly keep you apprised of its progress as more donations come in!


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Organization Information

World Food Program USA

Location: Washington, DC - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Meredith Slater
Development Associate, Friends of the WFP
Washington, DC United States

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