Mali: Raising money and hygiene standards

Women in one of the poorest areas of Mali’s capital, Bamako, have found a way to tackle hygiene issues and earn money at the same time – by making soap.

Djibril Coulibaly, Project Coordinator for JIGI, Mali. Photo: WaterAid.

Djibril Coulibaly, Project Coordinator for JIGI, Mali. Photo: WaterAid.

[…] “Hygiene standards in the Nafadji [slum] area of town were very very low, due to lack of infrastructure and because of ignorance,” Djibril Coulibaly, hygiene coordinator of Malian non-profit JIGI, told IRIN. “We carried out research that showed contaminated water and a lack of water were causing disease, but also that behaviours surrounding hand washing had an impact.”

JIGI (hope in the local language Bambara) has been collaborating with the international charity, WaterAid, for the last eight years to build public faucets and install household latrines in Nafadji.

But when JIGI began its hygiene education programme focused on hand washing [people said] “that they could not afford industrial soap, it was too expensive at 300 CFA [57 US cents].” Coulibaly added. “So we decided to work with a women’s group to look at the problem.”

[…] JIGI and WaterAid supported the Nfadji Women’s Association (AFSAN), a group of some 20 neighbourhood women, to set up a soap-making business in 2003. […] The number of soap pieces made per week has risen from 150 to 225, and demand is increasing, which has prompted plans to expand the business, said Coulibaly.

[Some] long-held traditional beliefs discouraged individual hand washing [for example that handwashing makes you poor]. [Therefore JIGI runs] weekly awareness meetings on washing hands with soap.

Source: IRIN, 26 Feb 2009

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