Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Assan Midal at Festival au Desert

One of the young men spurring development in the desert regions of Niger and Mali is Assan Midal.  You can find Assan's work in many places.  His facebook page has over 1000 people following him and he posts amazingly beautiful photos from the desert.  Assan also is the coordinator for the Association Parrainage Imidiwan.  You can find out more about that at http://www.ap-imidiwan.com/.  Assan spoke with me about the stress being placed on the people in Niger and Mali due to the drastic loss of tourism.  Other agents, such as Natascha of Touareg Tours, spoke to me about the same thing.  Many agencies are going to close.  While the Festival au Desert was able to attract several hundred westerners to its stages, the tours usually held throughout this high season are cut back or cancelled.  Just yesterday the air travel company Pointe Afrique cancelled its flights into Mopti.  That was one of the last of the flights they had maintained since cancelling 6 other routes in November.  This causes serious collateral effects on local families all along the region.  It makes the work of Assan and others even more important.  And the job of the governments even harder.  A void is created which has the potential to be back filled by criminal elements who have the cash to buy the loyalty of the local people.  Meanwhile, all they see from the west is turned backs and military hardware and soldiers.  It is a difficult situation for people struggling just to find water to drink.
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