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Soumaïla T Diarra

Soumaïla T Diarra is a Malian freelance journalist. He grew up in the small village of Massantola in the north-west of Mali, but is now based in Bamako, the capital where he writes for local newspapers. Soumaïla is also the correspondent for Syfia International, an African news agency, and contributes to Inter Press News, a global news agency specialising in development and globalisation.

Soumaïla has been published in El Mundo (Spanish).

Journalism by Soumaïla T Diarra

Mali: small steps to women’s economic empowerment


Women traditionally cannot own land in Mali, making it hard for rural women to earn money. Kaidia explains how the women’s association in her village helps women earn money and distributes loans.

Mali: rains bring hope to villagers – for now


So far the rains have been good and Kaidia has started planting crops for the next season. But without a bull to help plough her land she has to choose between sowing the seeds late or sowing them without ploughing.

Children fall ill as hunger persists


In Kaidia’s latest blog she tells us that children are the worst affected by the hungry season. Malnutrition means they are more susceptible to illnesses, such as relapses of malaria, and are unable to work in the fields to sow the next season’s crops.

Mali villagers too hungry to fast for Ramadan


Women in Gwelekoro village, where Kaidia Samaké lives, pound cereals. This year the harvest was poor due to lack of rain and the amount of food they were able to store has already run out - Andrew Esiebo | Panos London

As the food crisis worsens in Mali, our blogger Kaidia Samaké fears she will not be able to fast for all of Ramadan because she does not have the nutritious food needed to to break her fast when the sun goes down each evening.

Mali rebellion stirs fear in rural villages


Armed Tuareg man herding sheep in this remote and insecure area north of Gao - Crispin Hughes | Panos Pictures

As rebel groups in Mali combine to announce an independent Sharia state after the recent Northern coup, Kaidia voices her fears about her future in the south of Mali.

When people starve they do things they know are bad for them


Kaidia holds some néré pods - Soumaila T Diarra | Panos London

“We know we are destroying our environment… but we don’t have any choice.”

Leaders must think of rural people – we are starving


Women from Gwelekoro village processing cereals - Andrew Esiebo | Panos London

Kaidia explains the urgent matters that the new Mali government must attend to – the economy, education and hunger.

Blow to women’s rights in Mali


Farima Samake, a widow from Gwelekoro village in Mali, pictured with her family. She believes education gives women more choices in life - Andrew Esiebo | Panos London

A new ‘Family Code’ law, passed earlier this year in Mali, has dashed hopes of increasing women’s rights in the strongly patriarchal West African country

We must lead Mali toward progress


A Mali woman listens to the radio - Andrew Esiebo | Panos London

Kaidia speaks her mind about the recent coup in Mali and reflects on what these changes could mean for the rural south of the country.

Parents now see the importance of education


Children in the village school in Gwelekoro, Mali

Kaidia Samake is on the village school management committee. She encourages children to go to school and their parents to allow them.

Radio keeps us informed through the drought


Dogon women listening to the radio as they work, Mali - Rhodri Jones | Panos Pictures

With the worsening food shortage in Mali, Kaidia tells us how local radio is sharing valuable information with rural communities.

No one here escapes malaria


Village women listen to an educational talk regarding the dangers of female circumcision - Alfredo Caliz | Panos Pictures

Kaidia blogs about health issues for the children of Mali, from malaria to female genital mutilation.

Making pregnancy safer in Mali


Kadia Keita, a local midwife, is pictured with some of the babies that she has helped to deliver at the health centre in Bomau village - Abbie Trayler-Smith | Panos Pictures

Kaidia talks to us about pregnancy in Mali – the risks and the changes that are helping to improve the health of mothers and children.

Trials of tending the women’s garden


A girl carries water on her head in the village of Intedeyne, Mali - Ami Vitale | Panos Pictures

Kaidia speaks about how her community has dealt with rain shortages and drought over recent years.

Droughts in Mali causing crisis


Skulls and horns litter the dried out bed of Lake Banzena. It has not rained for months and the area is suffering from the most severe drought to hit Mali in 29 years - Abbie Trayler-Smith | Panos Pictures

Failed harvests and low food reserves in the Sahel, particularly Mali, Chad, Mauritania and Burkina Faso, means millions of people are facing a food crisis in early 2012. Kaidia Samaké explains how the lack of rain has caused her own harvests to fail and what this means for her and her children.

Women must beg for land from men


A woman walks home with a bucket of water on her head and a child on her back. She has to walk more than a kilometre between the well and home several times a day. Traditionally, water transportation is a woman's job, one of such importance that many girls are kept from attending school - Dieter Telemans | Panos Pictures

Men decide everything about the community’s life. When something must be discussed by the villagers, men meet in the chief of the village’s meeting room. Women don’t have the right to take part in those meetings.

Women form the backbone of Mali agriculture


Kaidia processing shea fruit - Soumaila Diarra | Panos London

Kaidia tells us about her experiences farming, processing and preparing the Shea fruit.

A women’s fund in Mali


A note on the wall of a local restaurant in Mali. Women have a hard time getting credit, so housewives have formed an association to provide loans for women - Sven Torfinn | Panos

An association of housewives from Gwelekoro all pay a small amount each week. The money can be given as small loans for women in Mali, where it can be difficult for women to get loans or funding.

“Education is very important. It opens people’s minds”


Kaidia Samaké reading with her grandchildren - Soumaïla T Diarra | Panos London

Kaidia Samaké tells us in her first blog about her experiences of adult education in rural Mali.

If I had a tractor I could hire it to other farmers


We have finished bringing in the harvest on our farms. The work we are doing now is the threshing of sorghum and millet, which are the most important cereals we grow. After the harvest we collect the ears of sorghum together on the farms to be dried. We protect them from the animals that can…

We grind tree leaves to treat malaria


Malaria is a common disease here. I can say everyone suffers from malaria several times a year. The worst outbreaks are during the rainy season which runs from July to October. Doctors say that mosquitoes benefit from the wet and dirty environment of the rainy season. And their numbers grow because they breed a lot…

The changing role of cow-herding in Mali


It’s time to harvest our main crops like sorghum and millet but they still need more water to produce enough grain. I think it might not rain again until next July so I’m worried about food security in my village and the surrounding areas. We rely heavily on farming for our livelihoods but we also…

Crops mark end of hunger season


We are currently harvesting the short-cycle crops such as black-eyed peas, fonio, maize and groundnut. Their cycle is shorter than the other crops we grow, especially crops like sorghum and millet. This time of year, every year, marks a period of happiness for the farmers. It ends the food shortage period, which can last several…

I’m worried one of my sons will migrate to Spain


I’m worried that one of my sons will migrate to Spain. He only talks about this project and doesn’t have any plans to do anything else. He has asked for the support of all the family to get him there. We can give him some money and our blessings for the success of his voyage….

Everything depends on clean water


I work with the Agro Meteorological Assistance Programme, which teaches farmers how to adapt their farms to water shortages. The problem is that farmers no longer know when the rainy season starts exactly. Normally the rainy season starts around May and ends in October. Now it might rain few times in May, but the rainy season…

I learnt to read at 30


My name is Sali Samaké and I live in Tamala, one of the villages in the region of Djitoumou, in Mali. We’re proud of our past. We always refer to Djitoumou, an ancient land name, to indicate our village’s position to outsiders. I was born in Defara, a neighbouring village, but my parents no longer…