An introduction to Mali

Read more about SPANA's work in Mali

Dr Amadou Doumbia, SPANA Mali country director, holding a young brown donkeyDr Amadou Doumbia is our country director in Mali. He has worked for SPANA for 16 years. He studied to be a vet at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the Agricultural Academy in Ukraine.

What is it like working for SPANA in Mali?
Working for SPANA has been really exciting; I have been able to see firsthand the changes that have been happening. From the first moment of its establishment in Mali, SPANA has made a huge effort to help the donkeys that work on the rubbish dumps across the city of Bamako. This is a real problem in Mali as we do not have rubbish trucks and the dumps are very close to where people live. By providing free veterinary care, awareness and education SPANA has gradually focused people living in rural areas where donkeys are widely used for any kind of farm work, transport of people or goods and providing material for construction.

What is the best part about your job?
I am extremely proud that SPANA helps poor people to care for and maintain the health of their working horses. The horses are their only means of survival in our poor country so it is vital that they are healthy and able to work. Annually SPANA veterinary teams treat about 19,000 Equids across the country.

What has been a memorable experience whilst working for SPANA?
One great thing is that some of the animals treated and saved by the SPANA veterinary teams work on a riding for the disabled children’s program. This program highlights the value that animals can have by helping children with physical therapy and the pleasure the children get from making friends with the animals.

With the great amount of work that the donkeys have to do, many suffer from injuries such as harness wounds. Despite the efforts of the veterinary team and trying out different strategies nothing seemed to solve the problem. My dream was that one day the veterinary team found no wounds on any donkeys that visited the mobile clinic. I am so pleased to say that it has happened! One day we discovered a group of working animals and no donkey had any wounds. I was so happy and proud of the whole SPANA team in Mali. I think it was a moment of great satisfaction for everyone.

What is your favourite thing about Mali?
In Mali there is such great diversity of nature which contains almost three different climatic zones. We have areas of dense woodland, then deserts which stretch for miles and miles, we have the vast mountain chains of Mount Mandingo and all of these are crossed by two major rivers; the Niger and Senegal. I also like the ethnic diversity we have which has led to a fascinating culture.

All about Mali

Working animals in dusty scene in MaliMali is a landlocked country in North West Africa. It shares borders with Algeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Senegal and Mauritania.
In the south of the country is a tropical savannah with trees and grass whilst the north is mostly desert. The climate is generally very hot and dry which means that Mali often has droughts. It does have a rainy season though which floods the River Niger creating the Inner Niger Delta.

Mali has a rich city and its city ‘Timbuktu’ or ‘Timbouctou’, a city of legends. Many years ago it was an important place and at the center of many trade routes. Ancient Mosques and buildings contained historic manuscripts. Sadly many of these transcripts and buildings were destroyed by rebels in 2012. There are ongoing discussions to rebuild and repair this ancient city.

Mali’s key industry is agriculture. Up to 80% of all the people that work in Mali are employed in agriculture. Livestock is mainly goats, cattle and sheep. People are reliant on these animals for a source of income but seasonal droughts mean they can lose nearly all of their herds.

As much of the country is desert, many people use camels and donkeys to travel. These animals often cope better with the very hot sun than vehicles! Donkeys are also used to cart rubbish around large towns and cities such as the capital, Bamako. These donkeys have to work hard to replace the large rubbish trucks that we often see taking rubbish away in the UK.


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