Balkissa’s garden: literacy and economic success in Mali

Balkissa Ario's garden © Mohamed Ganfoud Haidara

Balkissa Ario is an outstanding learner. At the age of 50, she travels several times a week on foot or, during floods, on a little wooden boat, about 3 km from her hamlet in the village of Berrah in the commune of Soni Ali Ber (Gao, Mali) with the sole purpose of reaching the REFLECT literacy circle of her community. Thanks to her motivation to participate in the learning circle, Balkissa acquired reading, writing and calculating skills at level 4 (of 5) on the UNESCO LAMP scale. This qualified her in October 2021, for a training session in vegetable production at the commune’s community learning centre located about 30, km from her hamlet. After this training, Balkissa set up a small vegetable garden of about 200 m2. She planted various crops (cabbage, onion, beetroot, lettuce, carrots, cucumber, pepper) in November 2021. The harvest she has garnered has enabled her to provide her family with fresh vegetables and fruit and to generate a small income of 50,000 CFA francs (about 75€). With that money she bought clothes for her daughter and paid for okra seeds, a vegetable which she has been planting since August 2022. Her literacy skills allow her to calculate and plan her crops and her profit. She hopes to generate an additional 20,000 CFA francs (about 30€) profit after the okra harvest. In her vision, Balkissa wants to put up a fence to secure her garden so that she can use it during all seasons of the year to generate more income and provide for her children.

Mohamed Ganfoud Haidara, DVV International, Mali


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