News / Africa

    Firewood Fuels Malians Health Care Costs

    Multimedia

    Audio

    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

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    Diplomats Hope to Revive Cradle of Civilization After Defeat of IS

    Diplomats from around globe gather at US State Department, discuss how to rebuild minority communities shattered by Islamic State group

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100% Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100% Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora