Micro-credit and Adaptation to Climate Change

The goal of the project is to contribute to reducing the vulnerability of poor communities to climate change and food insecurity through a micro-credit program.

Mali is a large landlocked country in the heart of West Africa, with a population estimated at around 14 517 176 people. Mali heavily relies on foreign aid and is very vulnerable to climate change. Despite local and international efforts, Mali is still an extremely poor country. It ranked 178th out of 182 (UNDP Human Development Index, 2009). Sixty seven percent of Malians live with less than 2 dollars a day and 54% survive with less than US$ 1.25 a day. Sixty four percent of the population is living under the national poverty line.

According to the analysis of food security and vulnerability (CFSVA, PAM, 2005), 42 to 45% of households in Timbuktu region are classified as being food insecure or very vulnerable. According to the same source, the grain stocks for the consumption of households are less than 50 kg/person/annum against about 260 kg per person and per year in Segou and in the center of the country. The micro-nutrient (vitamin A) deficiency resulting from poor little diversified food is the cause of health problems, notably « night blindness » among pregnant women, which mostly hits women in the Northern part of the country (32% of pregnant women in Timbuktu). This is also true for iron deficiency, which is the main cause of anemia among women, 57% of them according to the EDSM in Timbuktu and 64% in Segou.

Segou region ins considered as a region with great availability of basic commodities, which is accounted for by a large surplus production of rice in the Niger Office area (ON) and other cereal crops on wetlands, but also vegetables, fruits, and fish (ESBN 2007, Plan de SA de la Région de Ségou). However, access to these food items is not homogenous given the low productivity in certain emerged agro-pastoral areas, the isolation of certain communes, the inadequate knowledge of sustainable agricultural techniques and appropriate food practices, and the poor management of small perimeters (garden and rice perimeters) and cereal banks (Communal Food Security Plans (PCSA) of Segou Region).   

Such unequal access causes global malnutrition and insufficient weight for 29% as well as late growth for over 40% of the children 0 – 5 years of age in Segou Region (EBSN 2007 and EDSM IV 2006) with presumably significant variations among locations and over time.

Thus, the PNSA ranks 35 of the 52 communes of Timbuktu and 2 communes of Segou as vulnerable to food insecurity.

In this context, where agro-pastoral productivity is limited by ecological factors, the quest for other alternatives is justified in order to diversify food supply sources. AMAPROS, CARE and GRAD propose an operational research to verify the assumption according to which mobilization of local financial resources and vulnerable households’ access to micro savings and credit schemes, flexible and adapted, is a powerful means of improving the nutritional status of households.  

CARE Mali and AMAPROS have been implementing micro and savings and credit activities called MJT.

The goal of the project is to Contribute to the reduction of the vulnerability of poor communities to climate change and food insecurity.

CARE Mali, AMAPROS, and GRAD initiate this action research in order to understand to what extent the  ‘MJT’ micro savings and credit approach contributes or not to food security and to adaptation to climate changes. The goal of this operational research is to test the following hypotheses:

  • The reinforcement of women’s economic capital (including diversification of income generating activities), through MJT groupings ensures food security and reduces the vulnerability of their households to the impacts of climate changes;
  • Membership in  joint savings and credit groups reinforces women’s control over natural resource management, protects their rights and increases their influence over local authorities to implement measures of adaptation to climate change;
  • The knowledge and information acquired in the MJT groups help diversify women’s income sources (improved production, commercialization and funding of agricultural activities) improve food security and reinforce social resilience in the face of crises and disasters.

Thus, this initiative seeks to address two major issues:

  • The insufficient capacity of the Government and CSOs to implement community based approaches of disaster prevention and adaptation to climate change for the benefit of poor people;
  • The existence of very few successful and effective interventions which have given evidence of resilience to climate change; The activities which integrate Disaster Risk Reduction, Adaptation to Climate Changes and programming livelihood means (including social safety nets) is necessary to meet the challenges of climate change.
  • The introduction of adaptation to climate change, with technical assistance and actions aimed at increasing women’s participation in the management of communities’ adaptation and decision makings concerning the process will increase agricultural productivity as well as productivity of cattle and income, increase food security and reduce poor farmers’ vulnerability in these domains.
  • Assessment of community vulnerability to climate change using AVCA and Christal tools with the use of available anthropometric data available ;
  • Community analysis of results and proposals of solutions;
  • Reinforcement of existing MJT groups;
  • Study on the contribution of MJT groups in household resilience to the effects of climate change ;
  • Studies on the strategies of access and use of food resources by women members of MJT groups
  • Identification and monitoring of most vulnerable households to climate change and food insecurity in order to measure the effects of the MJT approach on their resilience capacities.
  • Sharing workshop
  • The immediate effects of the project are that MJT group women will understand through community analyses of the social, economic, and environmental causes of their vulnerability to climate change.
  • Through the collection and community analysis of the vulnerability to climate change, the project will contribute to community capacity building of the analysis of the effects of climate change and food insecurity. In addition, the development of a community approach to adaptation to climate change would be the ultimate result which will benefit both local communities and the Government and other stakeholders.
  • CARE and the other DCG member organizations could also pursue the promotion of such a model beyond the project. However, the tangible results expected from the project include:
  • Partner communities develop a resilience model to environmental changes which protects the most vulnerable groups, notably women and children under the age of 5;
  • Women’s MJT groupings participate in community decision making for a, notably concerning climate change.
  • A mechanism of analysis and management of the effects of climate change is operational, the immediate effect being reduction of the effects of food crises.