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Poverty Alleviation Projects

2007 Projects

August 31, 2007

Dear Friends:

Welcome to your August 2007 report for The $10 Club.

More than half of Mali’s population lives on less than a dollar a day. Only two nations (Sierra Leone and Niger) are listed below Mali on the United Nations Human Development Index. Life expectancy at birth is a mere 48 years and the adult literacy rate is a staggering 19%. Half of the population lives without sustainable access to an improved water source. A third of children under five are underweight for their age.

Mrs. Sitan Koné lives in the village of Siby, west of Mali’s capital Bamako. She is 44 years old and married with seven children, four of them girls. Her husband is mentally ill and incapable of working in the fields. They are poor, but Mrs. Koné still manages to cook for 60 people in her extended family thanks to the modest income she receives from peanut growing and Shea butter production.

Mrs. Fily Coumaré is 26 years old and is responsible for the health care of her four children. Because of her household duties she cannot undertake other income-generating activities. She can only earn income from selling the Shea butter she produces.

Shea butter, the highly moisturizing substance created from the Shea nut tree in western Africa, provides more than 80% of the revenue to women in rural areas of Mali. Thus, the promotion of Shea production is currently considered an extremely viable tool to help combat poverty in rural areas.

Project Karité is a cooperative that aims to increase revenues of rural women involved in Shea production through the improvement of the quality of butter produced and the placement of their product in a market where they can earn prices worthy of their significant efforts.

The cooperative currently operating in Siby faces many challenges that have hindered their development efforts. The so-called “House of Shea” is very small and the space for sale of products is arranged in the same room as the production and conditioning area.

This month, 370 of us joined together to donate $3,700 to the Association of Councils for Development (ACOD) in Mali to construct and outfit a cooperative boutique to sell Shea butter products in the village of Siby. ACOD’s vision is to create “a prosperous nation, free of poverty, ignorance and incompetence and in which men and women live in dignity and peace with one another.”

Our grant will help ACOD acquire three tons of cement, 20 iron sheets, six corner posts, bags of sand and gravel, paint, a door and two windows, and underwrite the masonry work, internal furnishing of the boutique, and management training to the women who will sell their products there. Thank you.

Among the women of rural Mali, Siby’s women are perhaps the most severely hit by poverty. Women in rural areas continue to be confined to traditional social roles with little access to resources that will help them climb out of poverty. Education is a serious part of the problem: 98% of Siby’s women have never been to school.

The commune of Siby hopes now to become an important tourist destination. Additionally, as more visitors come to the village, other enterprises will surely profit. Through the 16 square-meter boutique, product diversification will be facilitated, allowing the women to sell different types of Shea soaps and lotions.

Five years ago, the Government of Mali approved a national poverty reduction strategy paper which acknowledged: Women have many ambitions as social actors playing a full role in the development of their community and their country on the basis of equality of rights and all freedoms. The effective participation of women in the development process is not limited to economic functions alone. It also assumes enjoyment of certain rights such as rights to health, education and well-being, those relating to civil and political rights and to individual freedoms.

Of course, one of the eight Millennium Development Goals is to increase gender equality and empower women. This is exactly what we’ve done with our August project. Thanks to you, these women, and the families they support, will have increased capability to profit from their arduous, labor intensive Shea butter production efforts. Thanks to you, they have a brighter future.

Saving the world, ten dollars at a time,


PS. I have great projects lined up in Uganda and Senegal in the coming months. Please get your next donation in right away!

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