News / Africa

Firewood Fuels Malians Health Care Costs

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +

In the West African nation of Mali, villagers are cutting firewood to pay their medical bills.  But in an ironic twist that is making their environment more unhealthy.

In the village of Kabe, about 50 kilometers from Mali's capital, Bamako, a community health worker looks over Aseitu Sacko.  She looks in her eyes and palpates her stomach.  The clinic is just a small room with a bed and boxes of medicine stacked in the corner.

Sacko brings her toddler over.  The health worker asks whether he has ever seen a doctor.  Sacko says no.  The boy has kwashiorkor, which means he does not get enough protein in his diet.  The doctor bill is almost $14, while most Malians live on a little over $1.00 a day.

Sacko more often visits a traditional healer who costs a fraction of the price and prescribes herbs.

Walking back home, Sacko says she does not have money to buy good food for herself or her son, so she certainly can not afford to go to the Western-style clinic.

In the neighboring village of Sikoro, Mam Samake also avoids the doctor.  Samake says when her family gets sick, they do not get any medicine because they do not have any money.  She says they just go out and farm like usual.  But one day Samake got so sick with malaria she had to go to a clinic.

She says because she did not have any money to pay the doctor, she walked around her village, going house to house asking other people to lend her money.  Eventually she got what she needed.  Then, Samake says, she had to cut firewood and sell it to pay back the money she borrowed.

Samake says people in Sikoro did not go to school and do not have anything to sell, so to make money they cut firewood.

Fourteen-year-old Siraje Sacko takes a long log of wood from a pile towering over her head and whacks into smaller pieces.

Walking around the village, every household has sticks in large stacks in the yard waiting to be cut or in small tidy bundles tied with bark.

Deforestation

Mali consumes six million tons of wood a year. Villagers say the more wood they cut, the farther they have to walk to find it.

Mam Samake says they used to walk three or four kilometers to find firewood.  Now they have to walk seven kilometers there and back everyday.

The Malian Ministry of the Environment estimates each year the country loses 4,000 square kilometers of forest cover to fuelwood and timber harvesting.

Sahel Eco is a Malian aid group combatting deforestation.  Its executive director, Mary Allen, says the situation could be different. "They could be cutting those trees and earning a good living if there was proper management of those trees and proper management of the fuel wood supply," she said.

In other parts of Mali, Sahel Eco has helped farmers realize that they can make more money by taking care of the trees and selling their fruit and leaves instead of chopping them for fuelwood.

There are also efforts in Sikoro to provide villagers with another way to make money and provide food.

The villagers use big metal watering cans to care for crops at a community garden recently funded by the University of Southern California.  They will use the money they get from selling the vegetables to pay their bills, including doctors' bills.

You May Like

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid