See also:
» 08.12.2010 - Graft pauses Mali health aid
» 23.11.2010 - Mali's Sahel Highway moving forward
» 16.06.2010 - Gold reaches 80% of Mali exports
» 02.12.2009 - Mali’s rural poor boosted with $25.04 million for microfinance
» 27.11.2009 - French national abducted in Mali
» 31.10.2006 - US approves Mali development funds
» 18.07.2006 - “Poor people’s summit” slams G-8 policies
» 02.06.2004 - Natural disasters addressed in Mali

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Economy - Development

Mali counts on fisheries to fight poverty

afrol News, 8 October - The inland fisheries are Mali's easiest rural sector to develop, prompting the Bamako government to invest in the sector to fight poverty. However, even the most basic infrastructure and capacities still lack to make Mali's predominantly rural population profit from the potentially rich fisheries.

The Malian government in May 2002 adopted its overall plan to fight poverty and dedicated most efforts to strengthen the development of the agricultural sector, which employs 70 percent of the total population.

Notably the fisheries sub-sector was to be developed "in order to improve food security and reduce poverty in the rural area," as agriculture in the Sahelian country is constantly subjected to vagaries of the climate and deterioration of the terms of trade. A continual fall in the price of cotton and other agricultural export commodities had counterweighted earlier efforts to fight rural poverty.

Consequently, the Bamako government embarked on the major Inland Fisheries Development Support Project (PADEPECHE). The total cost of the ambitious project is estimated at 13.5 billion FCFA (about US$ 25.6 million). The African Development Fund (ADF) this week approved a loan of US$ 22 million (FCFA 11.6 billion), to help finance the project.

The large financial efforts to develop Mali's inland fisheries are necessary to address the absence of basic infrastructure, processing and packaging centres, weak capacity of the beneficiary populations and extension services. Beneficiaries in the Mopti region, along Niger River, will also have to go through extensive training to be able to ripe the fruits of the investment.

According to the Malian government's official project description, the inland fisheries development support project seeks to improve the food security of the country and reduce poverty. "The specific objective of the project is to improve the conditions of landing of the fisheries output in order to meet the food requirements and improve the living standard of the fishermen," the document says.

The project is set to involve the construction of landing stages in the central Malian towns Mopti and Konna, placed in River Niger's so-called inland delta. Other constructions include the development of fish processing and packaging centres in the towns of Akka, Diafarabé and Niafunké

To improve the fisheries, the project further includes the construction of 10,000 hectares of ponds for fish farming. The output of this fish farming is estimated at 100 kg per hectare or 1000 tonnes of fish each year when the construction is finished by 2010, according to the Bamako government.

Also the environmental preservation of the fisheries zone is set to benefit through the "reforestation of 5,000 hectares of banks and the sensitisation of the populations on sanitation and energy savings." The project also includes the provision of drinking water supply for the fishing villages and camps through the installation of large-diameter boreholes and wells.

The project will need to educate and sensitise local communities to manage the new facilities and other operators of the fisheries sub-sector. The social consequences of this empowerment include the literacy education of 12,000 learners, training of 14,000 beneficiaries and formation of associations of operators in the fisheries sub-sub-sector.

According to the Malian government, developing new sources of revenues in rural areas is key to fighting the country's widespread poverty. "The rural sector is the driving force behind Mali's development," according to authorities. It accounts for about 45 percent of the GDP formation, employs 70 percent of the total population and procures more than 75 percent of Mali's export earnings.

At the same time, however, the rural areas are the centres of poverty in Mali. 88 percent of Mali's poor population live in the rural area, according to government figures. An estimated 73 percent of the total population is still living on less than one dollar a day.

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