You will be based out of Bamako, the capital city, which is one of the fastest growing cities in Africa. Don't be fooled, even with much progression, you are still living in a third-world country. Most of the Bambara live in rural agricultural areas located outside of Bamako. You will spend 5 days in the village and 2 days in the capital. The majority are subsistence farmers, raising corn and millet as staple foods, and cotton as a cash crop. There are three seasons: hot dry, rainy, and cool.
The Bambara region is a very traditional area, and the evidence is readily seen in the surrounding villages. The influence of African Traditional Religion is greater in this area than in many other areas. Many villages have no mosque but that is changing. Islam is making substantial inroads into this largely animistic region. Men will be comfortable in light-weight pants. Women will need to wear calf-length skirts. Most Bambara women wear head wraps.
Good health is a must! Mali is hot most of the year and very dusty from November to February. Those with respiratory problems beware. Be ready to walk long distances. Malian roads are notoriously rough and can aggravate back problems. Malaria is a dangerous endemic in Africa that is transmitted by mosquito bites. It can be controlled with a prophylaxis, and successfully treated if the prophylaxis fails. Typhoid is also common.
Field supervisor should be made aware of any pre-existing conditions before arrival on the field.