Every day, Tenin Traoré sells biscuits on the corner of a sidewalk in Baguineda, a small rural town in the Koulikoro region of southern Mali. Baguineda has 32 villages and nearly 60,000 inhabitants. Traoré, a 40-year-old married mother of 12 children, describes herself as “a working housewife”.
Traoré’s modest cake business allows her to provide for her family. So every day, as soon as she finishes selling her cakes, she goes to the Baguineda market to do her shopping: enough to feed her family, and what she needs to make the next batch of cakes.
These days the market in Baguineda is filled with all kinds of products, but it wasn’t always this easy: “Before, it was hard to find what you needed. Products were expensive,” Traoré says. “We couldn’t find what we needed from the same supplier. We had to look for several producers.”
In Mali, a landlocked, climate-vulnerable Sahelian country, poverty and food security are real issues in some parts. More than 75 percent of the population live in rural areas, and agriculture accounts for nearly 40 percent of gross domestic product.
Since 2010, Malian authorities have been stepping up efforts to improve food security throughout the country. To support the government, the African Development Fund allocated $51.8 million to the Project to Improve Food and Nutritional Security in the Koulikoro Region in 2014.
Thirteen rural markets and marketplaces have been established in the region, and 102 kilometers of roads have been built, thanks to the project. This has made a major difference: a range of products can now be transported regularly and at lower cost to new, better-designed markets, including the one in Baguineda, which are able to withstand climate threats. “Now the vegetables are always well laid out and everything is clean, even when it rains,” says Traoré. “We shop at affordable prices and now we can find everything we need at the market,” she says.
The project had one major objective: to sustainably boost production in the rice and market garden sectors, and thus farmers’ incomes, by focusing on water management. Beyond that, the project has had other welcome benefits in the region, such as the rehabilitation and equipping of old and newly built health centers.
By December 2021, it had benefited 158,000 people.