Environmental non-governmental organizations: key players in development in a changing climate—a case study of Mali

Abstract

Developing countries are often most impacted by climate change. While the work of international environmental organizations has received considerable public and academic attention, local environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) also play a key role in assisting local populations adapt to the changing environment and develop in a sustainable manner. Drawing on data from semi-structured interviews with rural Malians, and using a local ENGO [the Mali-Folkecenter Nyetaa (MFC)] as a case study, this paper begins by describing how rural Malians perceive climate change is impacting their lives, and how the MFC attempts to address these impacts with their programs in the communities. The paper then illustrates the unique advantages of local ENGOs, both in their holistic approach and their integration in the communities, to working with the local population, relative to the approach taken by larger NGOs in this field. It concludes by proposing that a key new avenue for the international community to meet its developmental and environmental goals could be to support the work of local ENGOs through, for example, existing carbon markets.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    This gender distribution is likely attributed to the customs of the society where men are more likely to take part in public activities than women.

  2. 2.

    In the Malian context, women are responsible for preparing the sauce for the cultivated grain (millet, maize, rice). These sauces are prepared using vegetables, spices, etc. which are known as the condiments.

  3. 3.

    Many of the people in the focus groups in Didiéni did not know if the jatropha project would be a success as they were having difficulties with the plants due to the extremely dry and hot climate in this region. In these very arid regions, even drought-resistant jatropha does not grow well and the success of these projects remains uncertain.

  4. 4.

    Banco is a type of clay used to form hard bricks or walls and is found in most areas of the country.

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Acknowledgments

The author acknowledges the Mali-Folkecenter Nyetaa staff and affiliates, in particular Dr. Ibrahim Togola, Johanna Togola, and Benoît Rivard. The author is also very grateful to Joanne Nowak for her constant support throughout this endeavor. Finally, the author would like to thank York University for funding to travel to Mali, as well as the Faculty of Environmental Studies and Professor José Etcheverry.

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Correspondence to Gabriel Ménard.

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Ménard, G. Environmental non-governmental organizations: key players in development in a changing climate—a case study of Mali. Environ Dev Sustain 15, 117–131 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10668-012-9378-0

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Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Development
  • Sustainability
  • Impacts
  • Adaptation
  • Mitigation
  • Sustainable development
  • NGO
  • ENGO