A new start in pictures: rebuilding Mali

Three children look at an outdoor photo exhibition.
The photos provide a glimpse into the daily lives of communities that benefitted from the ‘Appui à la Relance Socio-Economique du Nord (ARSEN)’ programme. ©: SDC

A photo exhibition allows the people of Mali to take stock of the state of their country – and gives them a renewed sense of hope.

In 2013, the SDC was one of the first development organisations to launch a rehabilitation programme in Mali with its ‘Appui à la Relance Socio-Economique du Nord (ARSEN)’ project. The project supported people in Youwarou, Niafunke and Timbuktu who had lost their livelihoods due to unrest in the country. Within the scope of the project, schools, public buildings and irrigation systems were rebuilt. The programme benefited some 30,000 people, including many displaced persons and refugees. 

After the programme was implemented, some local photographers portrayed the Malian people in their own surroundings. The photos show positive changes and highlight the country’s cultural identity, but also emphasise the continued difficulty of day-to-day life for many people. 

For Malians who have not been able to visit the centre and north of the country for years for safety reasons, the pictures evoke strong emotions: “The photographers give us a glimpse into day-to-day lives that convey feelings of happiness. It’s a very different take than most of the reports on the people living through this crisis,” commented a visitor to the private viewing. The pictures tell the story of lives that are once again filled with colours and scents that reflect this new-found hope, and of a will not to fold their arms but to move forward together, to fight poverty and not to give in to fatalism. 

The exhibition was designed by internationally renowned Malian art professor and gallery director Chab Touré. The travelling exhibition entitled ‘La RELANCE en IMAGES’ (The REVIVAL in PICTURES) toured around Mali for four months.