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The story of El Mocthar ag Mohamed - village elder in North Mali

17. November 2017 - Mali
In 2017 arche noVa celebrates its 25th birthday. For a quarter of a century we have been committed to humanitarian aid and development cooperation. What's behind it? In the course of the year, we present 25 people whose stories are an example of our work.

When taking pictures, El Macthar ag Mohamed wants other villagers to be around. This is extremely important to the head of the village of Tedeini in the region of Alafia. He is grateful for every day the villagers of Tedeini are back with him again. That is not natural for him at all and only possible because of the arche noVa project for the reconstruction of Northern Mali’s infrastructure.

2013 Tedeini was under attack of advancing islamist groups. The assault also unleashed the frozen ethnic conflict between Tamachek and Bellah in the village. A massacre occurred, causing victims among soldiers and civilians. Ten people were killed including the little son of the village chief.

The attack left a trail of devastation. The community’s solar panel and the water pump were stolen, fields and cattle feet burned. The 300 survivors saw no more future in Tedeini and fled to a refugee camp in neighboring Burkina Faso.

After the ambush the village elder stayed

The village’s elder El Mocthar ag Mohamed was the only Tamachek who stayed in Tedeini alongside with some Bellah. There he met the team of our local partner organization Nor.Dev in 2014 during the planning of the arche noVa project. Though the rebels were pushed back at this time and the village was safe again, the families still were in the refugee camp in Burkina Faso.

So our team faced a village without population, but also an opportunity for reconstruction. So we decided to rebuild the community’s watering system and to support the families in developing new sources of income, if the village’s elder managed to get his people from Burkina Faso back to Tedeini. Indeed he was able to attain so and the project could begin.

He brought back the people and the arche noVa project gave them a perspective

The heart of agriculture became the new pump installed by arche noVa, which leads the water from the river of Niger onto the cooperatively managed fields. The so-called “perimeter” comprises 30 hectares in total. Two villagers were trained to be mechanics for maintenance and repair of the pump. Our local partner organization also distributed seeds and fertilizer for the first harvest. Since then, wheat, rice and millet are cultivated in Tedeini again, ensuring the livelihood of the villagers.

Meanwhile the population of Tedeini has grown to a number of 570 people, more than before the attack and more than El Macthar ag Mohamed dared to hope. Some of the villagers can be seen in the photo taken at the end of the project in 2017.