The rural community of Kouloun is located in South-West Mali, a country in West Africa’s Sahel region. With 10,000 people living in this community, mostly women, Kouloun suffers from high rates of poverty, malnutrition, infant mortality and child abandonment. The community has some of the lowest levels of school enrolment and attendance, especially among girls.
SOS Children’s Villages Canada, in partnership with the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, SOS Children’s Villages Mali and a variety of local community partners initiated a Family Strengthening Program in Kouloun in 2011.
The situation is critical. According to United Nations Developement Program (UNDP) statistics, between 1992 and 2005, 51% of Mali’s population was living below the international poverty line of US$1.25 per day. The UNICEF 2010 State of the World’s Children Report ranks Mali as having the 7th highest under-5 mortality rate in the world. Over 10% of all infants die during childbirth.
The goal of SOS Family Strengthening Programs is to prevent child abandonment and ensure that children can grow up in the care of their family, while having their needs met and basic rights respected. Learn more about SOS Family Strengthening Programs around the world.
Through the partnership between the community in Kouloun and the SOS Family Strengthening Program, remarkable changes have occurred in Kouloun:
- 65% of people in the community had less than one meal a day. Through the Family Strengthening Program three community gardens, with irrigation systems, have been created so to allow people to grow their own produce.
- These, along with our education program on child nutrition, have led to 80% of the people we serve having three meals a day.
- The dropout rate in Kouloun schools had been dramatically high—three years ago, over 68% of children and youth had abandoned their studies. Along with its support to families to find sustainable incomes, the Family Strengthening Program worked to build awareness that education is a child’s right. The result was a dramatic decrease in the dropout rate, which is now only 10% of children in the community.
Many people in Mali do not have access to personal identification documents which limits their opportunities. SOS helps children and parents obtain these identification documents to pursue an education, to travel outside of their own country, and to find greater opportunities for financial stability.
Thanks to the generous support of Canadians, the SOS Family Strengthening Program are helping families in Kouloun get the skills they need to support their families so their children need never be abandoned.
This project was undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development.