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During the 4-month rainy season in Mali, Sikoro becomes completely isolated due to the flooding of the only road out of the village. In the dry months, villagers can walk to the neighboring town of Sanankaroba to sell produce in the market, attend secondary school, and receive treatment at the health center. During the rainy season, villagers are cut off from these daily tasks. Mortality rates skyrocket, education is interrupted, and the economy comes to a halt. The flooding of the road pervades every aspect of Sikoro life.
USCAHI has been working for the past three years to solve this problem by raising enough money to build a bridge over the flooded river. The bridge will have an enormous impact on health, development, and economy in the village. Below are some of the direct impacts the completion of the bridge project will have in Sikoro:
- More economic opportunity - Working and trading in Sikoro depends on access to the larger town and its market. Sikoro does not have a market of its own, so during the rainy season, men cannot travel to other villages to work and women cannot bring crops to sell at market.
- Improved village health - Village health workers cannot access the area during the rainy season in order to vaccinate children and to distribute other items such as mosquito nets and chlorine for wells.
- Reduction in child and maternal mortality rates - The flooded plane prevents pregnant women from accessing to prenatal care, and makes it impossible for them to travel to the clinic to safely give birth.
- Reduction in mortality rates due to malaria - The river cuts off access to any sort of medical help during the highest, most dangerous part of the malaria season.
- Less environmental impact - During the rainy season when the women cannot sell crops at the market, they resort to chopping down wood as a main source of income, which contributes to the deforestation of the area and the expanson of the Sahara. Year-long access to the market would allow women to rely more on selling crops instead of wood.
- Improved nutrition - During the rainy season, women cannot purchase food at the market and must rely on the limited food availability in the village.
- Better education - Children will be able to attend secondary school during the rainy season.
In addition to fundraising for the bridge project, we have led two student trips to visit the village of Sikoro in 2010 and 2011, where we have implemented two other development projects: the creation of a community garden and the re-cementing of the primary school in the village.