We return to the Trees 4 Livelihoods programme in Mali. In the last edition we featured the work of this Big Lottery Fund project on sustainable land practices and we now turn our attention to how developing alternative livelihoods is reducing pressures on the forest and reducing poverty levels in the community.
Trees 4 Livelihoods is focusing on the links between access to trees and women’s livelihoods strengthening the capacity of women to develop sustainable and profitable businesses trading in non-timber forest products (NTFPs). This approach supports and motivates women to become actively involved in land and forest management processes in which, by tradition, they are rarely included.
Most recently our partners, Sahel Eco have been assisting women in 17 villages with a participatory market analysis of NTFPs such as fruits, nuts, spices and medicines to see which are most suitable to develop into small enterprises.
Training sessions have been held which, not only looked at the theory of market analysis techniques, but also involved practical sessions with trips to the local market. The training sessions identified the potential of products such as; Jujube, tamarind, balanites, palmyra palm, shea butter, grape, Hene and Saban. The next step is to create interest groups related to the selected products to build ‘enterprise clusters’ and to create cooperative approaches to reach new markets.
One of women involved in the project is Fanta Timbo from Komio Village who recently told us about how she was benefitting from the project.
“I am a housewife but I also run a small business that sells tamarind and palmyra as well as other non-timber related forest goods. The money generated from my business goes to supporting my family but it is mostly used for the care of my children.
Sahel Eco offered business advice regarding trading as well as running workshops to identify the strengths and weaknesses of our enterprises. With the acquired knowledge we were able to increase our sales of non-timber forest products and making it a more profitable business.
I would like to thank Sahel Eco for supporting women in our village and helping us to successfully promote our activities.Sahel Eco’s efforts are welcome as they have enabled us to decrease abuse of our forests so we can begin its regeneration”
We will be hearing again from the Mali project when we take a look at how it is protecting the local forests.