22.6 million

Mali is one of the hottest and driest places on Earth, and life here is tough.

Searing heat and unreliable rainfall affects everyone: four out of five people rely on farming for a living, but droughts are becoming ever more frequent, and finding water is a constant concern.

Amid a rising population, rapid inflation and political turmoil, those in charge are struggling to get people the water, toilets and hygiene knowledge they need.

As a result, medics work in health centres with no way of washing their hands or equipment. Children go to school without drinking water or anywhere to go to the toilet. And poor hygiene means diseases spread quickly.

people don't have clean water.

That's almost one in five people.

people don't have a decent toilet of their own.

That's half the population.

children under five die a year from diarrhoea

caused by dirty water, poor toilets, and a lack of hygiene facilities.

Our work in Mali

Since 2000, we’ve been working with communities to develop reliable, sustainable solutions. We focus on supporting those who are often overlooked: people affected by conflict or climate change, women and girls, and nomadic groups.

We partner with others to encourage the government to put water, toilets and hygiene at the heart of its spending. We help those responsible to develop the skills they need to deliver these essential services. And we support people to demand access to them.

Sharing skills to keep the water flowing

A mason and carpenter by trade, Souleymane is one of four mechanics in Samabogo, in the central Ségou region, who we've trained to maintain the area’s water towers and tap stands.

By equipping people like Souleymane with the skills and expertise they need to take care of problems, we’re making sure that communities don’t need to rely on us – or anyone else – to help when things go wrong.

Local residents are empowered to take ownership of the water systems, ensuring their impact will continue long into the future.

I am proud to be one of the mechanics... When I go up to the water tower and stand there it makes me very happy.
Souleymane Diallo, water tower technician

Supporting female entrepreneurs to keep their village safe

In rural communities like Samabogo, in the Ségou Region, women have few opportunities to be economically active. During the dry season, there’s little to do but wait until the next rains. Without a way of earning their own money, women are dependent on their husbands to meet their families’ needs.

We supported local women to set up a soapmaking collective, which also offers small loans to its members. The group empowers members to learn new skills, earn a steady income, and take control of their own finances.

Watch: the Soapmakers of Samabogo

It’s a win-win situation: because the group sells their soap at a fair price, more people can afford to use it to keep their families safe.

And with the money they make from selling it, women can buy clothes and medicine for their children, pay school fees, and cover household expenses. They can make their own decisions about what to spend and how much to save – without having to ask their husbands.

When a woman joins this group she feels empowered… you are independent
“I think when a woman joins this group she feels empowered. This is very important because when a woman is empowered she is independent and can do many things for herself.” Ruth Diallo, president of women-led soap and shea butter-making collective in  ...
Ruth Diallo, group president

Using theatre to improve hygiene

Drama and dance are central to Mali’s culture and heritage – so we’ve used this national passion to inspire our projects. Through community theatre and role plays, locally-respected artists have helped over 10,000 people understand the importance of good hygiene.

The Troupe Djonkala of Bla performs a play organised by WaterAid to sensitise the population on the importance of hygiene and sanitation, in Toukoro, Cercle de Bla, Segou Region, Mali. April 2018.
Image: WaterAid/ Guilhem Alandry

Ready to make a difference? Just £2 a month can help us reach more people in Mali with clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene.

Get involved, your way

Join an event, spread the word about our work, fundraise with friends – or find your own way to transform lives.

Delve deeper into our work

Explore the latest publications, research and policy papers from our work in Mali.

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