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Ségou Villages: Praying for Rain

Ségou villages have been happy celebrating the end of the month of Ramadan. It has also been a double celebration, since finally after a long month of praying and waiting, it rained in this region of Mali. Even though it was long past due, the rains were a welcome sight to see. The rainy season, wintering, or “hivernage,” as it is known in French, refers to this period of time where farmers sow their seeds before cultivating. Unless there is a sufficient amount of water, usually through rains, then there is a risk that the crops would be damaged. It was a topic covered by the new bloggers from the Rising Voices grantee project Ségou Villages Connection.

Oumar Dembéle (@D1Oumar) from Cinzana Gare, who was featured in one of the featured bloggers interviews, tweets [fr]:

L'hivernage commence bien actuellement au Mali. Il pleut chaque jour.

The rainy season has now started in Mali. It rains every day.

He also expressed his fears about this season in this tweet [fr]:

On dit que l'abondance des lianes en début d'hivernage n'est pas un bon signe.Elle peut provoquer selon la tradition la rareté de la pluie.

They say that the abundance of lianas at the start of wintering is not a good sign. According to tradition, it could cause a scarcity of rain.

A field in Ségou Region. Image from Ségou Info French Blog

What seemed to be a superstition came true, and Oumar fears were confirmed. Indeed, the project coordinator, Boukary Konaté, (@fasokan) also posted a series of tweets on this problem [fr]:

Les populations de certaines communes de Ségou veulent de la pluie maintenant. #villageinfos

The populations of some Ségou villages want rain, right now

Boukary adds that farmers have not been able to sow their fields [fr] because of the scarcity of rains making the soil especially dry [fr]. He explains the situation in a blog post on Segou Infos [fr]:

L’hivernage a commencé. La semence n’est pas finie et il ne pleut pas beaucoup encore. Voici deux semaines qu’il ne pleut pas dans certains villages de Ségou et cela inquiète beaucoup les populations. « Oui, le service de la météo nous dit de ne pas nous inquiéter, qu’il va pleuvoir jusqu’en novembre, d’accord, mais est-ce que c’est en novembre qu’on va semer. », disent certains paysans. Ils ajoutent que le sarclage peut peut-être attendre, mais la période des semences passe.Le sol est partout sec et pour cela, certains paysans restent à la maison à l’attente de la pluie, mais d’autres partent travailler le sol sec. C’est ce manque de pluie qui est à la UNE au village et chacun prie pour qu’il pleuve

Wintering has started. Sowing has not finished and it is not raining much yet. It has not rained in two weeks in some Ségou villages and this is worrying the populations. ”Yes, the weather forecast service is telling us not to worry, and that it will rain in November. It's ok, but will we wait till November to sow?” ask some peasants. They add that weeding might wait, but sowing period would be overdue. The soil is dry everywhere and that's why some farmers are staying at home waiting for rain, but others go to work even under drought. It is the scarcity of rain that is making the headlines in the villages and everybody is praying it rains.

Throughout the first part of August, it still had not rained, but finally on August 19th the crisis appeared to be over. Boukary tweeted [fr]:

Il a plu dans la Région de Ségou aujourd'hui: 16 mm à Bamaoussobougou/Cinzana-Gare

It rained in Ségou today: 16 mm in Bamaoussobougou/Cinzana-Gare

And days later it started to rain regularly [fr]. Yaya Coulibaly (@ycoulibaly) who also featured in one of Rising Voices featured blogger interviews was overjoyed as he states on August 29th:

après une semaine sans pluie les habitants de cinzana -Gare commence a sourire ce matin après 21mm de pluie<

After one week without rain, Cinzana-Gare residents are beginning to smile this morning following 21mm of rain.

Rain Gauge in Bamoussobougou. Image from Ségou Infos blog

To conclude, Modobo Traoré, a farmer in Bamoussobougou in Cinzana-Gare, sends a list of rainfalls for the month of August, which was posted on the Ségou Infos blog [fr]:

Lundi 25/07/2011 = 6 mm
– Mardi 26/07/2011 = 23 mm
– Samedi 30/07/2011 = 35 mm
– Jeudi 04/08/2011 = 5 mm
– Lundi 08/08/2011 = 3,5 mm
– Vendredi 12§08/2011 = 6,5 mm
– Dimache 14/08/2011 = 49 mm
– Mardi 16/08/2011 = 12 mm
– Vendredi 19/08/2011 = 16 mm
– Samedi 20/08/2011 = 10 mm
– Jeudi 226/08/2011 = 4,5 mm
– Lundi 29/08/2011 = 25 mm

Monday 25/07/2011 = 6 mm
– Tuesday 26/07/2011 = 23 mm
– Saturday 30/07/2011 = 35 mm
– Thursday 04/08/2011 = 5 mm
– Monday 08/08/2011 = 3,5 mm
– Friday 12§08/2011 = 6,5 mm
– Sunday 14/08/2011 = 49 mm
– Tuesday 16/08/2011 = 12 mm
– Friday 19/08/2011 = 16 mm
– Saturday 20/08/2011 = 10 mm
– Thursday 226/08/2011 = 4,5 mm
– Monday  29/08/2011 = 25 mm

With this peace of mind, residents of the Ségou villages were able to celebrate Eid in a happy and festive mood.

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