International arms embargoes aimed at stalling the bitter civil war in Mali led to homemade biological weapons being used between the warring religious groups. Poisoning water supplies became a common method of weakening the opposition, with the resulting civilian casualities.
The original capsules were supplied to communities at risk and contained an antidote to the effects of the poison and were designed to biodegrade.
Capsules were eventually manufactured for multiple purposes by the Mali Government to distribute numerous substances such as dehydrated food, vitamin doses and medicines.
Towards the end of the war, opposing groups were reusing the capsules by inserting new forms of biological weapons, killing many and making all capsules objects of distrust within the civilian population.
In the post war period, the capsules were dropped from planes and used to ‘spore’ the deserts with seeds, fertilizers and moisture concentrations, leading to a flowering of vast expanses of the arid landscape. This eventually led to a prosperous and well fed population and the capsule becoming an icon and symbol of the new Mali.