Mali is one of the poorest countries in the world. Around half the population lives from less than 1.25 US dollars per day and, thus, below the poverty line. The Global Hunger Index classifies the hunger situation in the country in 2015 as ‘serious’. Geographically too, Mali is a challenge, made up of two-thirds desert. There is only one single road to Timbuktu. When it is closed, nothing comes in or out of the city.
Since the beginning of the 2012 crisis there were violent conflicts in the city. The residents were afraid to leave their houses, the markets deserted, traders stayed away. The nutritional situation worsened rapidly. At the same time, the harvests were already poor before the unrest and the people threatened by hunger.
How dry bushland was turned into a green garden
When the women around Zarin Yattara began the reconstruction of the Peace Garden in mid-2013, there was only sand, old and dead trees. Today, the garden glows in lush green. It is the combined effort of the women from the Peace Garden who want to shape a new, peaceful future together here on the outskirts of Timbuktu. This is not necessarily self-evident, as the women belong to different societal groups. Across the country, there are conflicts, for example, between settled farmers and nomadic livestock breeders about the access to water and land.
The idea behind the Peace Garden is to bring people together. Women from all parts of the population work together, regardless of whether they are residents, returnees or displaced. We all get on well together and we have regained our dignity
It is about overcoming mistrust and working together on mutual goals. And these are vital: planting and harvesting fresh vegetables, consuming a healthy diet and generating some money from the sale of the harvest.
Fresh vegetables for the family and for the market
460 women work in the Peace Garden throughout the year. The garden supplies markets in Timbuktu with beans, lettuce, beetroot, carrots, tomatoes and potatoes. There are four hectares of land to till, 42 women’s associations are participating.
Our families now eat vegetables again. Some of the vegetables are given to neighbours or sold on the market. Our children are healthy again. With the money we earn, we can send our children to school or buy medicinesays Zarin Yattara, president of the Alhamdouhlaye women's group.
The Peace Garden is a project by Welthungerhilfe and its partner organisation Association Malienne pour la Survie au Sahel (AMSS).