The food crisis gripping Mali and conflict in the north of the country have already created crippling challenges for children wanting to go to school. Now, with the arrival of the rains, widespread flooding has further interrupted schooling for 68,000 children.
At first, the rains brought great celebration, heralding the end of dry land, dying animals and ever-shrinking water sources. However, as each successive downpour came, the roads turned into rivers and villages became deluged.
It is not only children’s education that has felt the impact of the floods. It is reported that a further 11,000 people have been affected. Tragically, five have died from drowning or as a result of their mud houses collapsing around them.
Research carried out by the Education Cluster, which is co-led by Save the Children, found that 129 schools have been affected by flooding throughout the country.
In the Kayes region alone, where Save the Children teams are delivering life-saving assistance to families hit hard by the food crisis, over a quarter of all schools have been damaged. That’s 28,000 children whose schooling has been suspended or stopped.
Months out of school can do long-lasting damage. Children who are forced to stay at home and not attend school are less likely to return to education. They are more likely to be vulnerable to exploitation and child labour, and the psychological impacts of the food crisis and conflict can be felt more keenly when a child isn’t able to follow their usual routine.
Save the Children has been distributing teaching supplies and carrying out training in schools affected by the food crisis, and by displacement caused by violence in the north.
However, despite warnings about the impact the conflict is having on children’s learning, education funding in Mali remains critically low at just 4% of the UN target.
The challenges to education for the children of Mali are enormous. The recent floods represent yet another obstacle preventing children learning. This situation presents a clear call to action that, to date, has not been met.