4 May 2010 The head of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) today concluded a visit to the West African nation of Mali, lauding the efforts the country was making as its strives to alleviate poverty and provide basic social services to the people.
Helen Clark said Mali was committed to democratic governance and was making progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a blueprint agreed to by all the world’s countries aiming to reduce extreme poverty and other problems by half by 2015.
Mali had also managed to reduce national HIV/AIDS prevalence from 1.7 per cent in 2001 to 1.3 per cent in 2006, and has dramatically expanded universal access to treatments and other services intended to halt the spread of the disease.
Miss Clark, the Administrator of UNDP, visited the historic mosques in the legendary city of Timbuktu and toured the library that houses its mediaeval manuscripts.
On the outskirts of Bamako, the capital, Miss Clark visited an all-women mango cooperative striving to give female farmers the right skills to grow and treat their produce for export. Each of the farmers in this UNDP-supported project, aimed at poverty alleviation, handled about 35 tons of mangoes for the export market. The project has enabled Mali’s mango exports to rise sharply, from 2,915 tons in 2005 to 12,676 tons in 2008.
“These types of aid for trade initiatives help empower women, boost family income, and even help ensure their children got to school. Everyone gains,” she said. “Mali truly has the opportunity to become the breadbasket for the region,” she added.
Miss Clark praised Mali’s respect of democratic principles in discussions with President Amadou Toumani Touré, Prime Minister Modibo Sidibé, Foreign Minister Moctar Ouane and other senior Government officials.
She discussed a range of additional development issues with the President, including the key role of agriculture for Mali, the importance of tackling climate change, and the importance of improving the status of women. “Economic empowerment [of women], access to legal rights, including inheritance rights, and participation in decision-making” are key steps towards achieving women’s empowerment, she said.
UNDP and the Global Environment Facility plan to develop a $2.3 million project in Mali to bolster the resilience of the country’s agriculture in the face of climate change.
Miss Clark will travel from Mali to Burkina Faso, Tanzania and finally South Africa during her mission to Africa.
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