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#VillageStory Sirakoro – A Very Special Village

August 07, 2020


Sirakoro has a very special charm. Compared to other Malian villages, it is more "traditional" and not built in a square pattern. With its winding streets, it looks as if it has developed naturally and by itself. The village is divided by a small river where a pond has formed. Many white water lilies float on the surface of the pond. In combination with the women washing their clothes in colorful robes and the lush green surroundings, the result is an incredibly colorful and paradisiacal picture.

Implementation of the "Kobo" Tool

Africa GreenTec is traveling to Sirakoro with a large team of almost 30 employees to use the new "Kobo" tool for the second time. "Kobo" is a software that digitizes and simplifies data recording. Clean data recording is very important in the evaluation phase of a village project, during the planning and construction of a power grid and to ensure good customer service. In Sirakoro, the new digitization process will therefore be used for the first time right from the start of the project. 

Six weeks earlier, we had already used the tool in Djoliba. We gained a lot of new knowledge about how to use the system. Our team wants to use this knowledge to continuously develop the software further, which is not always easy when the internet connection is constantly interrupted.


Digitization Simplifies Data Acquisition

"Kobo enables our team to access the data digitally from Bamako. Thanks to this function, we can structure and control all processes better, which has quickly won over our communications team in particular. Our technical team is also enthusiastic and instead of using pen and paper to record all information by hand, everyone walks through the village together with the tablet and all important data can be saved directly in the system. 

The plan was to use the new tool to simplify processes and work faster as a result. In theory, this is quite simple, but in practice it proved to be more difficult than expected due to the local conditions. Our technicians sometimes recorded GPS data from potential customers outside our network, as this is what was shown to them on the lists. The connections and the GPS data did not match. In addition, some villagers who wanted a connection were not on the list of prospective customers, while others were simply put on it. In the end, however, all the teething problems were resolved and 200 households were successfully connected.

Signing contracts is also not always easy in Mali, as the illiteracy rate is high and the villagers naturally do not want to simply sign something they do not fully understand - as is the case in Sirakoro. Some people can read and write, but in Bambara. French is not always understood in written form. In these situations, we realize how important it is that our team speaks the local languages and is familiar with the values and customs of the region. 

In addition, there is often general mistrust when we visit a village for the first time. In the past, local people have often been promised by other organizations that electricity will be supplied. In some cases, money has even been collected without the promise being kept in the end.

Friendly Welcome

In Sirakoro, however, the joy of our visit prevailed and we received a very warm welcome. The village community seemed to be motivated by the fact that we came to their village from far away and with a large team. They also quickly realized that we really wanted to make a difference. Without a Solartainer on site, the mediation work for our communications team on the first visit was naturally challenging, as they were unable to show the villagers what to expect in practice.


Local Specialities

The food in the village is also very varied and the typical village bread is very popular. It is a long, narrow baguette that is traditionally baked in wood-fired ovens. Our insider tip: Very good with meat and sauce - even better with the beans straight from the village.