The village of Siradoba in Mali’s Ségou region had two boreholes providing safe, potable drinking water and reducing diarrheal diseases: the first was donated in 1990 and the second in 2015. Both boreholes broke down in 2021 leading people to drink from traditional wells, that are not fit for human consumption and had been reserved for washing clothes. "As a result, cases of diarrhea and abdominal pain became common…we had not taken action to have the boreholes repaired as we were hoping for the support of a partner who was slow to come, while the population continued to suffer,” says Kalidy Diarra, a member of the village health solidarity committee.
That is when the people of Siradoba heard about a new project called USAID Keneya Nieta that strengthens the community health system and empowers communities to improve their own health. “We were told that USAID’s approach is different from what we were used to. They would not just come in and fix the problem; rather, they would guide us on how to fix it ourselves,” says Kalidy.
Keneya Nieta identified, trained, and coached community volunteers from to take charge and address shared public health concerns. Volunteers were divided into four committees: one for nutrition; one for health governance; a third for water, sanitation, and hygiene; and a fourth, the village health solidarity committee, for health finance.
"With USAID Keneya Nieta, we found answers to our water problems. Working through the health solidarity committee we were taught to plan and collect funds in the village to finance repair of the boreholes," Kalidy affirms. A monthly contribution of 100 CFA ($0.16) per household was set up and community members gathered local materials and made bricks, contributing an estimated 15,000 CFA ($24.00).
After two months, the fund collected 30,000 CFA ($48) to repair the two boreholes: “Thanks to community mobilization, households in Siradoba again have access to safe drinking water and waterborne diseases are a distant memory,” he says. The people of Siradobo now understand that, by working together, they can improve the health of their community and have moved on to solving other health problems. Each household continues to contribute 100 CFA monthly to the village health solidarity fund to support prenatal consultations.
Thanks to USAID Keneya Nieta, 3,404 villages in the regions of Mopti, Sikasso and Ségou have village health solidarity funds to improve the health of their communities. Over two years, these funds have collected and disbursed 25,333,221 CFA, over $40,000, to improve the health of women and children under 5 years.