Mali: report 2014

January, February 2014: Three newly orphaned babies have joined our group.  This brings the total numbers to 30 babies (between 0 and 12 months) and 86 infants (between 12 and 59 months).  All of them are doing very well, apart from several who have colds because of the very low winter temperatures and icy winds.

On the other hand, the project against malnutrition is a catastrophe.  The last supervisory mission into the bush produced a whole list of problems; a lack of basic hygiene; water contaminated by animal excrement; out-of-date, insect-infested flour.  The children eat this uncooked flour and drink contaminated water and, as a result, there is an epidemic of diarrhoea.

The early drying out of lakes has forced people to dig well holes in the middle of the lakes, this only produces unclean water.  The dry season is likely to be very prolonged this year.  Food reserves are already running low.  There are still some grazing areas in Gourma but they are too far from water points.  It is often necessary to travel 15 kms or more to find water, this arduous task is left to the women and children despite the ever-present risks involved.

Basic foodstuffs have become very difficult to find in the countryside, but even products that are designed to be used in the treatment of malnutrition are often freely available at the markets in the big towns. This is due to the amount of corruption that exists.  Everyone should remain vigilant to guard against this.

The beginning of February saw strike action by medical staff.  Staff who had remained in their jobs during the occupation were demanding compensation payments to match those offered to encourage staff who fled to return.  These payments amount to 250,000 francs CFA so it is easy to understand the frustration of staff members who remained.

The replacement internal doors for the Oasis Zankey Aljanahugo Centre have now been completed, and are magnificent.  As the terrorist threat still remains very real, the doors will be stored safely until it is possible to install them.

We have taken in three babies whose mother died in childbirth.  The women who arrive for the Saturday distributions look very unhappy.  They have lost confidence that things will return to normal.  The administration of the town has only just restarted and reconstruction has not even begun.

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