ACDI/VOCA Shares Lessons Learned from Millennium Challenge Account Program in Mali on Huffington Post
The text below is an excerpt from a blog post that is part of a series organized by The Huffington Post and the NGO alliance InterAction to call attention to the crisis in the Sahel, a region in sub-Saharan Africa where more than 18 million people face starvation and 1.1 million children under the age of 5 are at risk of dying from acute malnutrition. Click here to read more of HuffPost Impact's coverage of the Sahel and here to find out what InterAction members and others are doing in the Sahel.
Mali is no stranger to drought. The country has long stretches of desert plains rocked by seasonal monsoon winds and dust tsunamis; temperatures easily crawl into the 100s. Hama Cisse farms here, in the country's Sahel region, alongside the northern Sahara where disaster looms.
Almost 20 million people face starvation in the Sahel. Widespread drought, high food prices and poor harvests have left over a million children at risk of severe malnutrition.
But, despite low rainfall and general food scarcity, Cisse has had a bumper rice yield this year. His surplus rice is no accident.
Over the last three years ACDI/VOCA, an economic development organization, has helped Cisse and some 10,000 others in the northern Segou region of the Sahel make the transition from seminomadic livestock herders to sedentary farmers and landowners through the Alatona Irrigation Project, funded by the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA).
For centuries the inhabitants of this region depended on natural rainfall to create viable grazing grounds. For these pastoralists, one year of low rainfall, like last year's, could wipe out herds and create an insurmountable disaster. Resettling and retraining these often-marginalized herders has helped them transition from a subsistence lifestyle into commercial agriculture. It's also brought a measure of food security to this fragile area.
Click to read full "Food Security Solutions in the Sahel" on Huffington Post.
Learn more about ACDI/VOCA's Alatona Irrigation Project.