November 24, 2022 / Bamako, Mali

Women and children in the artisanal and small-scale mining sector in Mali (FEMA) will benefit from a Canadian-funded project to improve livelihoods, reduce child labour and strengthen local governance.

The 5-year (2022-27), $10 million CAD project entitled FEMA (Femmes et Enfants des Communautés Minières Artisanales – Supporting Women in ASM Communities in Mali) was launched in Mali today, in the presence of Canada’s Ambassador to Mali and Malian mining officials.

FEMA is funded by Global Affairs Canada and will be implemented by Cowater International in partnership with Canadian non-governmental organizations IMPACT and Right to Play, and the Federation of Women in Mining of Mali (FEMIMA). Canadian mining company B2Gold also intends to join the project as a financial partner.

The project is expected to indirectly benefit approximately 33,000 women and 78,000 children currently involved in artisanal mining in the Kéniéba area, as well as 195,000 women working in ASM in Mali.

Artisanal mining is the main source of income in mining communities in Mali. In the circle of Kéniéba, the artisanal and informal mining sector employs at least 33,000 women with about 70,000 children either working or accompanying parents on site. Child labour is a major problem in the artisanal mining sector that is not sufficiently considered in sectoral policies.

“FEMA is taking a comprehensive approach in addressing the governance challenges in the Malian artisanal and small-scale mining sector by strengthening institutions, raising awareness about harmful practices and working with communities to enable sustainable growth”, said Yann Lebrat, Vice-President, Governance and Economic Reform at Cowater International. “We are delighted to mobilize strong partnerships and build on our long-term engagement in the Malian mining sector to support more prosperous livelihoods and sustainable economic opportunities.”

The FEMA project will aim to address the following key priorities:

  • First, support women and adolescent girls in improving their incomes and working conditions in ASM by organizing them in savings groups, improving their bargaining power and access to finance, providing access to equipment and training to make their work safer and more productive. FEMA will also work with communities to promote access to vocational training and support the provision of facilities for local small and medium enterprise clusters that have linkages to industrial mining to offer economic alternatives to ASM;
  • Second, work with communities to reduce child labour by engaging local leaders and service providers to monitor and change child labour practices through training and reschooling programs. Moreover, the project will support women’s mining organizations, both at the local and national levels, to strengthen their voices in decision-making.
  • Third, support local and national authorities, as well as other actors such as local industrial mines and donors, to improve mining sector governance. The project will build the capacity of relevant mining stakeholders in the implementation of the new Mining Code and will support new oversight mechanisms for the sector.

Read more information on Cowater’s website.

About Cowater International

Founded in 1985, Cowater International is a leading global development consulting company. Headquartered in Ottawa and with corporate hubs in Brussels, London (UK), Montreal and Nairobi, Cowater International has successfully delivered a portfolio of over 2500 projects and assignments in more than 95 countries. We work with governments, private sector actors and communities implementing projects that support socio-economic development, institutional strengthening, environmental improvements and advance equal opportunities for all. We are a diverse and experienced team committed to building a better tomorrow for the people we serve.


IMPACT, formerly Partnership Africa Canada, transforms how natural resources are managed in areas where security and human rights are at risk. We investigate and develop approaches for natural resources to improve security, development, and equality. We are an independent non-profit collaborating with local partners for lasting change.