Many, many thanks to everyone for all your support for our work. I have recently returned from Mali, and it was really inspiring to see everything that is being achieved.
There has been fantastic progress in our environmental work. More and more people are getting involved, and I was amazed that we have tripled the amount of trees grown in the agroforestry to 256,761 new trees at the January count. This will provide many more resources and increase crop production. 49.2 hectares of sand-dunes have been stabilised to protect farming land, and 62,978 saplings for income generation have been grown and planted from nurseries. Unlike many drier areas such as North Africa and the Middle East, land recovery in the Sahel is remarkably fast. Even wildlife such as hares, foxes, hyena, antelope and partridges are already returning to the planted areas.
The unprecedented floods in 2007 will have long-term effects. A lot of topsoil was washed away, and it was heart-breaking to see that many wonderful villages have lost much of their land and livelihoods. However, none of the villages with environmental schemes, dune stabilisation and erosion control measures have been affected. Many villages whose land is threatened, are now asking for help with environmental schemes. And many people in neighbouring districts, who are seeing the benefits of the planting, would like to participate in our environmental programme.
We have 9,000 volunteers for tree planting and erosion control this year, and are very anxious to raise more funds for our environmental programme. People cannot survive without soil and tree resources. The necessary seeds, transport of cuttings, and some technical training support are required. We could help communties to plant half a million trees this year, if we can raise the funds, and this would have a very big impact.
It would be very helpful if we could tackle smaller sand-dunes that are appearing, before they start damaging people’s land. The costs of stabilisation are very low in the early stages, as only deep-rooting grasses are needed, but multiply as the dunes get bigger and more complex planting is needed. We are very sorry to have been too late for many villages last year.
Our work with the wider community on female genital mutilation has been remarkably popular so far. The negative consequences have been quickly accepted by all religious and community leaders, many of whom, including 18 Imams, have taken on the issue for teaching themselves. We are working with teaching staff in schools who are interested in this work in two districts, serving 44 villages. We have trained 2 men and 2 women community workers to work in these districts. Huge numbers of people have been coming to their village meetings. We need to raise more funds for the work on female genital mutilation. We would also very much like to develop a more comprehensive ‘Maternal Health’ programme. This would work with communities on a combined programme of nutrition, family planning (as many girls are having abortions), hygiene and female genital mutilation together. It would be of very wide appeal and extremely useful.
If you are planning to support our work this year, we would be extremely grateful if you could give your support early. We are very short of funds to run our normal activites, but many of them need to take place in the current dry season. This is a year when so much could be achieved. Also, the pound is falling week by week against the euro, to which the Malian currency is tied. The pound has fallen 20% against the euro in the last year, so we need to raise more funds than before to do the same work. For higher taxpayers, as well as the 28.2p Gift Aid we receive from you, you can also claim 25p tax back for every pound you give.
We are extremely grateful for your wonderful support, and particularly to those of you who give regular donations. It is making such a big difference, and is enormously appreciated in Mali.
Please note that we have recently moved and have a new address, as below.
PLEASE NOTE OUR NEW ADDRESS:-
8 Nattadon Road
8 Nattadon Road
Devon TQ13 8BE