MFC Banniere
Newsletter N°4 15/10/2007
:: By: Ibrahim Togola and Tom Burrell

MFC Nyetaa has long cooperated with organisations in Denmark such as the Nordic Folkecenter, Risoe, OVE and CASA, for the implementation of various renewable energy projects. These activities were launched in 1999, with the start of the first MFC project, "Integrated solar energy for rural Mali", funded by the former Danida NGO Windows. This project, executed in 20 villages in collaboration with the Nordic Folkecenter, had a goal to reduce Rural Exodus through improvements in rural living conditions. Solar energy systems were installed to provide drinking water, lighting in schools, lighting and refrigeration for cold chain vaccine cooling in clinics.

With the opening of the new Embassy of the Kingdom of Denmark in Bamako, capital of Mali, in December 2006, this cooperation was further developed by the launch of two new projects with innovative approaches. Based on local economic development, these projects will strengthen the sustainable, decentralised development process in Mali. The first project is called Yere Yiriwa, and will increase participation of populations in the Government of Mali's decentralisation policy, thus strengthening rural deomocracy and opening the door to participation of populations in local infrastructure projects. The second project concerns the development of the Jatropha plant in Mali to create a new emerging Jatropha sector which can play a significant role in Mali's economic development.

This latest edition of the MFC Nyetaa Newsletter provides information on these two innovative projects, which have been designed to bring lasting mesurable and concrete benefits for the population of Mali.

The MFC Nyetaa team

What's Happening at MFC ?
MFC Programs and Activities
Projet YERE YIRIWA - building capacity and dialogue to combat poverty in rural Mali
:: By : Tom Burrell and Diakalia Traoré

YERE YIRIWA, in local Bamana language, means to be responsible for one's own development in order to be respected and considered by society.

The project is being exeucted in the rural municipalities of Koumantou and Garalo, district of Bougouni, Region of Sikasso. The project will cover a total of 67 villages, if which 37 are in Koumantou and 30 are in Garalo. The strategy of the project is to contribute to the dynamisation of the local development process through an increased participation of the populations and a real and regular dialogue between the citizens and their local councillors. The experience gained in this pilot project will be put to positive use by other stakeholders, both in the project region as well as centrally to serve as a tool for consolidation of the Government of Mali's good governance and decentralisation policy.

Development objective

The development objective is to build capacity of the local populations in villages in the south of Mali so that they can become operational and responsible actors in the development process in their area, in the framework of decentralisation, which will lead to poverty reduction.

Immediate objectives

- To strengthen participation of the population in the socio-economic development process and decentralisation at village and municiapl levels, through training - with a particular focus on the inclusion of women and the young;

- To strengthen the capacity of the villages and the municipalities targeted, to cooperate within a framework for dialogue and for the mobilization of internal and external resources for development activities - now and in the future;

- To strengthen the capacity of MFC Nyetaa in order to allow the organisation to accompany the villages and the communes of Mali in their struggle for development.

MFC Nyetaa is responsible for the management of the project. MFC is also responsible for the execution of the project activities on the ground. Nordic Folkecenter will provide technical support the project implementation. The duration of the project is 2.5 years, and is financed by the Embassy of the Kingdom of Denmark in Mali.

MFC Nyetaa opened a local office in Bougouni in order to have a presence close to the project zone. From February to August, the Yere Yiriwa team carried out activities in the 67 villages of the communes of Koumantou and Garalo with the effective implication of the villages, the municipal authorities, representatives of the government and the various actors in the development sector which intervene in the villages. The participative approach of the project is strongly appreciated by the municipal authorities and the populations.

In each of the 67 villages, one female and one male representative were elected by the population. The village representatives have a key role in the project, to manage project activities at the grassroots level in the villages. The representatives were given training in the mobilisation and participation of populations in the context of decentralisation policy and on diagnosis of potential economic activities.


Theoretical training in classroom with full participation of the representatives chosen by their communities (left). Practical training on the use of the transepts for the analysis of the local natural resources (right).


Hands-on training outside the classroom (left). A representative explains how to make a transept (right).

After the training, a participative schedule was worked out by the trainers, the trained representatives, the municiaplity and the project team. The representatives returned to their respective villages and carried out the identification of the barriers to economic activites, and of potential new economic activites of their own village. The next stage will be focused on sectoral meetings (between the villages in each sector or geographical area of the municipality) to identify villages with common strategies.

A framework for dialogue between the municipal authorities and the populations was intiated in collaboration with the Conseil de Cercle des Collectivités (district advisory body). This will be a platform for the participation of the populations in local government affairs and the development of the commune. This offers to all the possibility of being better able to communicate with each other.

The full participation of the populations, including the women, the municipal officials, the village chiefs, the leaders of opinion and community groups & associations is a good sign for the continuation of the project. The populations were strongly motivated by the innovative aspect of the project - namely the identification of the activities by the recipients themselves.

The next stage will be the sectoral grouping of the villages, the identification of the various activities, will lead into the selection of potential economic and infrastructure microprojets to be executed by the project. This will be followed by execution of feasibility studies for the microprojets, which will be implemented at the beginning of the 2008.

The project has progressed well in spite of the sometimes difficult conditions, like this track flooded by rainwater (left).

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Project to develop the Jatropha production chain in Mali
:: Par: Tom Burrell and Ousmane Ouattara

The Jatropha plant

Jatropha curcas is originally from Latin America, but is now found in all arid and semi-arid tropical regions. It is a member of the Euphorbiace family, is resistant to drought, tolerant of poor soil, and can live for up to 50 years. For generations, farmers in Mali have prtected their gardens with living hedges of Jatropha, as it is not edible by animals and so can protect other edible plants in the interior of a garden.

Jatropha seeds on the plant (left). One of MFC Nyetaa's plantations in Tiekourabougou, Koulikoro Region (right).

The growing of Jatropha is now developing. It can survive in dry regions where there is no other agricultural production except for extensive cattle breeding. Jatropha can aslo potentially be a new tool for development, as it can be grown in such areas without competing against food crops.

Jatropha seeds are harvested by a Malian woman (left). The Jatropha seeds: the green ones come directly from the plant, the black ones have had the outer shell removed, and the white ones have had the thin black inner shell removed (right).

Jatropha production allows the protection of soils against wind and water erosion, and increase water absorption by the earth, thus fighting desertification. Jatropha products, particularly the oil, offer new sources of income and jobs in these regions.

The "living hedges" in Mali protect against animals, and reduce erosion by wind and rain. Surface water can enter the soil more easily where the roots penetrate into the earth (left).

The oil can be a renewable source of energy (Straight Vegetable Oil or Pure Plant Oil), or it can be converted by transesterification to make biodiesel. Thus it can potetnially help nations reduce their fossil fuel dependence. At the same time it can stimulate the economy, and create jobs and growth.

Use of Jatropha in Mali
Mali is one of the poorest countries on the planet. As a result, the greatest challenge facing the country is to fight against poverty, and develop the economy. Largely dependent on agriculture, the Malain economy was hit hard by the cotton crisis of 2000. On top of this there are the ever increasing international prices of fossil fuels, which must be transported a thousand kilometres or more overland from the African coast to Mali. This has a heavy effect on the ecomony.

Thus it is vital for Mali to identify new economic and social perspectives in order to allow the economy to overcome these barriers. In this context, Jatropha is significatn as the development of the production chain can contribute mesurably to the country's growth.

The extraction of Jatropha oil is not a recent discovery for Mali, which has some expereicne in the field since the 1980´s. In addition, its use for energy provision has already been demonstrated. In fact, various experiences have been undertaken, most notably for fueling small motors of between 10 and 35 kW (for example to power cereal or karité mills).

Click the image on the right to go to the interactive schema of a Jatropha powered multi-functional platform, of which several have been installed byMFCNyetaa in viallages in southern Mali.

One of the most significant interests in the implementation of this current project for development of the Jatropha production chain to provide fuel, is that it will allow substitution of imported fossil fuels.

These fossil fuels, with their ever increasing prices, are a huge economic burden on the country. If this can be reduced through adoption of Jatropha as an energy source, it will contribute to future economic growth. In fact, the development of the Jatropha production chain can contribute not only to reducing the expenditure on fossil fuels, but also to wealth and job creation. However, it would be risky for the country to embark on this enterprise without an in depth knowledge of the context and a methodological understanding of the strategy to be taken.

The development of the Jatropha chain presents several possibilitites and advantages:

- Development of a local renewable energy source to reduce the cost of imported petroleum products, and contribute to CO2 emission reductions.

- Development of a commercial system for supply and utilisation of Jatropha oil, which can create jobs in villages and small towns.

- Create jobs in the agricultural sector (with a focus on women and young people), to contribute to rural poverty reduction.

The Jatropha plant is well known in Mali and has various traditional uses. The technical feasibility of using Jatropha oil as an energy source has been well deomonstrated from a practical point of view. However, detailed documentation is often not available. The economic and financial feasibility is not well understood. In addition, socio-cultural aspects of Jatropha use remain obtuse.

Information on the different options for Jatropha oil use has been available over the last few years, however, the intense interest from the authorities means that more detaield information will be necessary.

For all these reasons, this project was seen as necessary in order to develop the Jatropha production chain in Mali, to allow advances and professionalisation, and to bring all the potential benefits (economic, social and environmental) into reach.

Development objective
Local sources of renewable energy exist and are widely used; they contribute to reduction of the burden of fossil fuel imports on Mali's economy, they contribute to poverty reduction by creating wealth, and reduce CO2 emissions.

Immediate objectives
The immediate objectives are to:

- Provide or make available reliable documentation on the Jatropha production train through elaboration on finanical, economic and socio-sultural analyses, taking into account at all levels the equality of the sexes, and the widespread dissemination of this information through a broad comunication strategy.

- Increase production and productivity of Jatropha and strengthen concrete knowledge on te crop and its exploitation

- Facilitate the professionalisation of the Jatropha sector in order to foster the emergence of a national market for Jatropha oil.

- Create a national strategy for development of sustainable biofuels.

The actors and their roles in the project
The principal benficiary is the Government of Mali, represented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. The technical benficairy is the Ministry of Mines, Energy and Water, represented by the National Directoriate of Energy (Direction Nationale de l´Energie - la DNE).

The DNE will make the CNESOLER (Centre National d´Energie Solaire et des Energies Renouvelable - the national centre for solar energy and renewable energies) responsible for the coordination and administration of the project. The CNESOLER will also be responsible for the development of the National Strategy for Biofuel Development.

In the project execution, the DNE and the CNESOLER will associate MFC Nyetaa and other external organisations for specific tasks.

MFC Nyetaa has many years experience in the field of sustainable management of natural resources and the use of theseresources to meet the energy needs of rural populations, particularly in the field of local production and use of biofuel. Thus MFC Nyetaa will be responsible for studies, dissemination of information on biofuels, Jatropha plantation activites, and commercialisation of the Jatropha production chain.

The IER (Institut d´Economie Rural - the institute of rural economy) has a Forst Resource Programme, which will be responsible for active research on the production of different varieties of Jatropha, seed selection, and harvesting and storage methods. The IPR (Institut Polytechnique Rural) de Katibougou will be responsible for the activites to develop the sub products of the Jatropha plant - in particular the press cake which is left after the oil has been extracted by mechanical pressing.

Mobilising international expertise
In the frame of this project, a first trip has already been undertaken to Denmark to meet with specialists in the domain of Straight Vegetable Oil (SVO - a.k.a. Pure Plant Oil or PPO). In Denmark, it is generally rape seed oil that is used. There is a significant Danish expertise in decentralised oil seed pressing and conversion of vehicles to run on pure vegetable oil, which has been built on the succesful German experience.

Relaunching of the Malian Jatropha Network as advisory body
The Malian Jatropha Network was originally created by MFC and other stakeholders in 2002. However, the new interest in Jatropha, and this new project will now allow the network to take a more prominent role. A task force will be created to define how the network will operate in practical terms, and to identify stakeholders who can make a contributuon to its work. This will include resource people from government bodies, civil society, the private sector, and research institutes. The task force will organise thematic groups which will examine how best to capitalise on Mali's significant Jatropha experience, and develop strategies for the promotion of biofuels in Mali. The task force has already drafted a first list of potential memebers. New membership will be developed, so that the network can be a focal point for lobbying decision makers in the government in order to develop sustainable mesures for the future of biofuels in Mali.

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