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Many rural Malian communities are separated by great distances from the urban centers, including the capital city of Bamako. In many instances, the poor infrastructure, poor roads, and limited electricity, can make the distances seem much larger. However, the emergence of communication tools such as affordable mobile phones can help strengthen the links between the residents of rural villages and the larger cities. This is especially important for many Malians who have left their communities for greater educational and economic opportunities in Bamako.
One prolific Malian blogger, Boukary Konaté, is originally from the Ségou region in Mali, which is located along the Niger River. Even though he lives and works in Bamako, he still holds strong binding ties to his community back home. He has been an innovative local leader in the use of citizen media tools as a way to keep residents in the Ségou region informed about news taking place in the capital and around the world. For example, he provided live Twitter updates with scores and news of the 2010 World Cup football matches taking place in South Africa. These microblogging messages written in French and the native language of Bambara provided valuable updates to the football fans in Ségou without television sets.
Konaté's project seeks to continue this communication flow with the residents of the Ségou villages, but the project will add a teaching component where villagers will learn how to send their own news and information back to Bamako. Through hands-on workshops that will take place in various villages, Konaté will train the residents how to use their mobile phones to send news about the communities to the residents living in the capital. They will also receive feedback and comments from the readers, with all of the information to be collected on a community portal made available in French and Bambara. This two-way communication will strengthen the relationship between residents in the villages and those now living in the capital city.