A Day of Distribution in Djenné

Speeches Shim

Wednesday, July 22, 2020
The project’s team — seated and masked — with a beneficiary at the distribution site in Djenné
Mercy Corps

It is late March and USAID’s Food and Reconciliation in Mali field staff are at Djenné’s main market. The project team has assembled not far from the Great Mosque — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — to set up at a large open-air gathering point where they welcome beneficiaries in groups of 30 in compliance with COVID-19 distribution guidance.

More than 700 people are receiving assistance from the American people in this fifth wave of food voucher distribution for internally displaced people, returnees, and host families in the Djenné district of Mopti Region. In addition to the distribution, 1,137 additional participants will receive household assistance in Socoura, in the city of Sévaré.

From a nightmare to a way forward

Like hundreds of people in Djenné that day, 44-year-old mother of four Fatoumata Dicko presented her participant card to field staff. After completing the requirements, she collected her WASH kit and a food voucher — split into two sub-vouchers of $38 and $33 — and went to her usual supplier for food products.

Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) kits include water containers, soap and water treatment products to ensure beneficiaries have access to clean water and can use good hygiene practices when preparing and eating food. This is an important component of food assistance programs to ensure food is prepared and consumed in a clean environment, and it reduces the transmission of diseases including COVID-19.

Fatoumata Dicko, left, waiting her turn
Fatoumata Dicko, left, waiting her turn — at a safe social distance — at the food voucher and WASH distribution
Mercy Corps

Originally from a small village located between Waya and Sanouna in the commune of Sofara, Fatoumata has lived in Djenné for the past two years. She had supported her family by making handmade mats from the age of eight years old.

Overnight, we were forced to leave our village because hunters attacked us and stole our cattle. We were living in poverty facing enormous difficulties and dangers, she explained.

Upon her arrival in Djenné, Fatoumata was welcomed by the local authorities including the village chief, the mayor, and the neighborhood head. But here, she was still struggling to make ends meet. Finding food, and paying rent, water, and electricity bills were becoming daily challenges.

Fatoumata learned about USAID support through the contact person representing internally displaced people in her neighborhood. Like thousands of displaced people in the area, she was identified by the local targeting committee. She received her first food vouchers in late 2019, which she says had an impact on her and her family’s nutrition.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic

Because of COVID-19 prevention measures — which she had heard about but had been unable to fully act upon — Fatoumata is very happy to have a WASH kit including soap, storage containers, and buckets for washing. “We will be able to properly wash our hands and also our clothes,” she says.

“Today we are carrying out this voucher distribution in a new context due to the coronavirus pandemic. This is coupled with the distribution of WASH kits, alongside water treatment tablets and soaps. We found it necessary to adapt our intervention to these measures without stopping activities. We spaced participants a minimum of one meter apart. Our agents are also protected with masks and gloves”, explains Moussa Bamadio, who oversees community mobilization.

Read the full story here


Last updated: April 14, 2021

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