Press release: When satellites guide pastoralists

October 2018


Bamako -Mali, October 18, 2018 - The GARBAL service was launched commercially in November 2017 in Gao. Since then, 1,164 calls and 32,802 USSD requests from 21,583 users have been registered, which demonstrates the users’ interest for the service. In a survey of 400 people conducted in July 2018, 98% of users said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the service, 97.6% acknowledged the accuracy of the information provided and 91.2% said they had made different decisions based on the information received.

The project implementation context

The consequences of climate change and insecurity are affecting pastoralists’ mobility. Their traditional means of searching for natural resources to decide on their transhumance are now uncertain, expensive and risky. However, livestock mobility in arid areas is essential for their survival, and is a key feature in pastoralists’ food security.

The Sustainable Technology Adaptation for Mali's Pastoralists (STAMP) project led by SNV, aims to improve resilience amongst climate affected pastoralists in the Gao and Menaka regions in Mali by facilitating their use of satellite data. The project initiated the development of the GARBAL information service that can be accessed from all phones and help pastoralists decide on the movements of their herds in search of water and pasture.

With the GARBAL service, the STAMP project makes satellite data available to pastoralists to identify where water and pasture are located with a 10 meter accuracy. Pastoralists can talk in their local language with GARBAL service's call operators or they can send a USSD requests in order to instantly obtain information about:

  1. the availability and
  2. the quality of biomass,
  3. surface water availability,
  4. herd concentration around these resources and
  5. Market prices for livestock and staple grains along the transhumance axes.

The STAMP GARBAL service makes use of a combination of satellite data and information collected by pastoralists themselves in their vicinity; all crucial to support decisions on herd movements, save time and money and, consequently, improve their livestock productivity.

In 2017, GARBAL service got the 1st prize in the Mali Orange National Social Venture Prize. It was presented at the 2018 World Water Week, held in Stockholm, Sweden, to highlight its technology for surface water detection in arid environments.

Public-private partnership

The STAMP project is 70% funded by the Netherlands Space Agency (NSO) through the G4AW funding facility (GeoData for Agriculture & Water, a Dutch Government program), the remaining funding is provided by consortium members including ORANGE Mali which manages and commercially operates the call centre. Satellite data are processed and stored by Hoefsloot Spatial Solution and Action Against Hunger-Spain. TASSAGHT, a local NGO supervises the collection and sharing of field data and raises awareness of the service amongst pastoralists. Project Concern International and the Institute of Rural Economy provide technical assistance for the development of the GARBAL service and the project's overall monitoring and evaluation. SNV coordinates the overall project and ensures that it matches the needs, realities and aspirations of pastoralists.

About SNV

SNV is an international non-profit development organization established in the Netherlands in 1965. It has been active in developing countries for more than 50 years, and now operates in 30 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. SNV is dedicated to a society in which all people, regardless of race, class or gender, enjoy the freedom to pursue their own sustainable development.

Known for its strong ability to implement and administer complex and large programs for many donors, SNV supports a portfolio of activities worth €130 million per year. Through the implementation of projects, advisory services, a knowledge network and advocacy support, SNV experts strengthen the capacity of local communities, businesses and organizations to become self-reliant, more effective and contribute to the reduction of extreme poverty and good governance.

SNV focuses on issues related to agriculture, food, energy, sanitation and water, four global challenges that strongly influence the opportunities of the poor and are closely linked to climate change. In Mali, where interventions began in 1979, the organization has offices in Bamako, Ségou, Sikasso and Gao and works directly and through its partners in the Bamako district and the regions of Sikasso, Gao, Ménaka, Mopti, Ségou, Koulikoro, Kayes and Timbuktu.

Press contact: Thiam Jafar – (+223) 83 90 89 26 –


Catherine Le Côme

Senior Advisor - Agriculture & Project Manager - STAMP

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