Below are the most recent news updates from Ecova Mali.

 

Increase food security in 10 villages w/food bank program!

June 23 2012

 




Some local friends at our Training Center.

Our head farmer, Sedou, in the garden


A recent satellite image of our field office and training center.  Click   Here  for before and after images.


Some onions in the ECOVA MALI garden.


Some typical Malian granaries.


The typical "su su" mortar and pestle used by the majority of rural Malian women to prepare daily meals from millet, sorghum, maize, or rice.

Greetings,  friends!

    I hope this letter finds you all in good health and spirits!

     As you may know, the current situation in Mali is not good.  There is ongoing political turmoil in the south and a separatist rebellion/occupation in the north.  The cost of food, fuel, and other critical necessities has increased, putting the average Malian family in very dire straits.  To make matters worse there is a  food crisis of catastrophic proportions growing throughout the Sahel region stemming from a poor rainy season last year, and doubts about whether or not this year's rainy season will be adequate to insure good harvests. 

    There is a term in Bambara often used to refer to the time of year from June through September, “kongo waati” which literally means, "the hunger season".  It corresponds with the rainy season, when many families' food stores from the last year's harvest are seriously depleted (or gone) and the crops in the field are not yet ready for harvest. This year’s hunger season  threatens to become a hunger year, with devastating consequences.

    In order to help address the growing  food crisis in Mali that poses a threat to hundreds of thousands  of Malians, ECOVA MALI wants to expand our micro-loan program to create food banks in 10 small, rural villages to help buffer families from the risk of running out of food before the reap of the new harvests.  We are modeling this program after an indigenous food security system that still exists in some (but not many) villages in Mali.  In Greg’s former Peace Corps host village, each family contributes 1/3 of their harvest to the communal granary.  Every family has the right to "withdraw" rations of millet or sorghum should their own food stores run out.  In the event that surplus grain remains at the end of “the hunger season”, it is sold and the proceeds divvied up proportionately amongst the families of the village based on the amounts originally contributed. 

    We would like to help villages start their own food banks by giving them a number of sacks consisting of millet, sorghum, maize, beans, peanuts, or some combination thereof.  Rather than have the villages pay the cost of these food stores back to ECOVA MALI in cash, the agreement would require the villages to adopt a community food bank model like the one described above, so that these communities will have a buffer to the “hunger season” in subsequent years and the potential to raise additional funds for the community in the event of a particularly good harvest.

    Our goal is to raise at least $5,000 by the end of this month.  Although ambitious, we know that with your help we will reach it!  With $5,000 we will be able to supply 10 small villages (population <500 people) with 500-600 kgs (half a ton or more) of dry staple foods, which will make a considerable difference in the food security situation for these communities.

    We are making this push before the end of June because “kongo waati sera” (the hunger season has arrived), and we are able to accept online donations through Google Check-out without paying the usual 3% commission!  Please do what you can to help us reach our goal and kindly spread the word to your friends & family asking them to do the same.  100% of funds raised go directly to support our efforts on the ground in Mali.

Best wishes and many thanks to you all!
 
Greg and Cynthia Hellmann Flatt
Co-Founders and Directors
ECOVA MALI, Inc.
69 Cherry St.
Swampscott, MA 01907
www.ecovamali.org
You are receiving this email because you are among Greg Flatt's and/or Cynthia Hellmann's network of friends, family, colleagues, and acquaintances. If you are already among our group of supporters we would like to take this opportunity to thank you and kindly ask that you continue to support us as we move into 2012. If you are just learning about ECOVA MALI, we are hopeful that you will take interest in our efforts on the ground in Mali and choose to support us with a tax-deductible financial contribution.

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We are now on Google Maps!

June 22 2012

Our Training Center & Field Office is now listed within the Google Maps database.  We have a satellite image from Google Earth that pre-dates our acquisition & development of the site, as well as one that was taken in December 2011 (see below). The latter shows the gardens, wells, & buildings we have created since acquiring the land. Click here to see our training site in Google Maps.

Here is a satellite image from 2003                       Satellite image from December 2011

(6 yrs before ECOVA MALI acquired the land)         (2 1/2 yrs after ECOVA MALI acquired the land)

        

 

Zoomed image of Training Center and Field Office

In the top right of the land is the housing, field office,

warehouse, sheep and chicken pens, and kitchen arranged

in an "L" shape.  In the inside corner of the "L" is our outdoor

pergola (hangar) which provides a shady space where many of

training sessions have taken place.

 

Field Office and Training Center

November 4 2011

We purchased 7 acres of land 35 km west of Bamako for our permanent Training Center and Field Office in 2009.  Most of the construction is complete and our fantastic Malian staff continues to develop all the necessary infrastructure to make it a living example of agricultural and economic self-reliance.  2010 saw the creation of our permanent vegetable garden, which is central to our training work, and over time will become an increasinlgy important component of the organization's financial viability.  We hosted our first series of training sessions beginning in June.  We hired a local expert to train 2 dozen local women in improved shea butter production techniques.  The workshop series was wildly successful and the women are excited to use their new skills to produce Grade A shea butter that they will be able to sell for a premium!  Other workshops have focused on improving soil fertility through composting and mulching as well as inter-cropping.

 

We are proud to say that ECOVA MALI is officially recognized by the IRS as a 501c3 non-profit profit organization.  As such we can accept your tax-deductible donations directly. You can send us a check made out to ECOVA MALI or make a secure donation using your credit card on this website. 

Our vegetable garden and field crops

September 26 2011

We are happy to say that our year-round vegetable production which we first planted in March 2010 is going strong! So far our staff has planted chilli peppers, tomatoes, okra, eggplantbeans, peas, and numerous papayas.  We have already been able to eat and sell some of its bounty! We have consistently had amazing yields from our habanero peppers, tomatoes, onions, peanuts, maize, and cashews. The papayas are amazingly sweet and yield fruit within 9 months of planting from seed!

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ECOVA MALI is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. As such, your financial contribution to ECOVA MALI is tax-deductible as a "charitable donation" when you file your annual tax return! You can either send us a check directly (made out to ECOVA MALI) to the address below, or you can make a secure online donation using Razoo.   

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Contact

ECOVA MALI
69 Cherry St.
Swampscott, MA 01907

(978) 818-0751

greg@ecovamali.org

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