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Mali is part of:
Africa · Western Africa ·
Water Basins of Mali:
Komoe · Senegal Basin · Volta ·
Facts & Figures edit
Capital Bamako
Neighbouring Countries Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cote d Ivoire, Mauritiana, Niger, Guinea, Senegal
Total Area 1,240,000 km2
  - Water 20,000 km2 (1.61%) / 161 m2/ha
  - Land 1,220,000 km2
Coastline 0 km
Population 13,518,420 (10.9 inhab./km2)
HDIA 0.391 (2007)
Gini CoefficientA 40.1 (1995)
Nominal GDPB $8,776 million
GDP (PPP) Per CapitaB $1,200
Land UseC
  - Cultivated Land 37,900 km2 (3.79%)
     - Arable 37,600 km2 (3.76%)
     - Permanent Crops 300 km2 (0.03%)
     - Irrigated 2,360 km2
  - Non cultivated 299,141 km2 (96.21%)
Average Annual RainfallD 282 mm
Renewable Water ResourcesE 100 km3
Water WithdrawalsF 6.546 km3/yr
  - For Agricultural Use 90%
  - For Domestic Use 9%
  - For Industrial Use 1%
  - Per Capita 562 m3
Population with safe access to
  - Improved Water Source 50%
     - Urban population 78%
     - Rural population 36%
  - Improved Sanitation 46%
     - Urban population 59%
     - Rural population 39%
References & Remarks
A UNDP Human Development Report
B CIA World Factbook and Wikipedia
C CIA World Factbook Country Profiles
D Aquastat - FAO's Information System on Water and Agriculture
E CIA World Factbook
F Earthtrends

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Country Profile: Climate, Geography, Socio-Economic Context

Mali is one of the poorest countries in Africa, ranking 173 out of 177 on the Human Development Index. The country is land-locked with two-thirds of its area covered by desert, where decreasing precipitation and precipitation variability make it increasingly hard to subsist. Mali’s annual per capita income, which ranks one of the lowest in the world, is $240.

Country Profile: Water Bodies and Resources

The Inner Niger Delta is the largest inland wetland in West Africa, with annual floods bringing up to between 25,000 and 30,000 square kilometers of land into production. One of the Delta’s most prized resources is the grass burgu, which provides excellent dry-season pasture. Over a half million people live in the Delta, and the area claims 40% of the national cattle herd and 90% of the national fishing catch. Outside the Delta, there is a growing water infrastructure, but rainfed farming and pastoralism are still dominant. Mali receives an average of 282 millimeters of rain each year, ranging from more than 1200 millimeters per year in the sub-humid forest and woodland zone in the south (6% of land area), between 600 and 1200 millimeters per year in the central Sudan savanna (17% of land area), and between 200 and 600 millimeters per year in the northern Sahelian zone (26% of land area), to less than 200 millimeters per year in the Saharan zone in the far north (51% of land area).

Just under 5% of Mali’s cultivated area is irrigated. The Office du Niger is a large-scale irrigation scheme established by the French in the 1930s and rehabilitated by the state in the 1980s. Only 12% of the country’s large irrigation potential is currently developed.

Mali’s total renewable water resources amount to 100 cubic kilometers. Approximately 90% of the country’s water consumption is for agricultural purposes. Access to improved drinking water is higher in urban areas (78%) than in rural areas (36%). Household connections to improved drinking water are lower in both, at 11% of urban households and 2% of rural households. Only 59% of urban households and 39% of rural households have improved sanitation coverage.

Mali faces almost insurmountable challenges to improving the coverage and performance of its water supply and sanitation (WSS) sector in time to meet its Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets by 2015. In particular, Mali’s record of accomplishment in expanding sustainable sanitation coverage is poor. Despite water and sanitation access estimates that show fair performance, WSS sector data must be considered with caution due to consistently conflicting access estimates.

Mali is decentralizing the responsibilities for WSS, empowering the local governments to provide service while central government retains responsibility for regulation, policy, and sector support.

Country Profile: Legal and Institutional Environment

Key Agencies in Mali's Water Sector
Key Agencies in Mali's Water Sector
Legal Framework

The 2002 Water Code (Law No. 02-006) and 2000 Land Code specify that the state owns all water resources with only limited exceptions for smaller bodies of surface water. The state owns all groundwater. The Water Code regulates the use, conservation, protection, and management of water resources. The Water Code requires permits for extraction of water, with exceptions for water used for domestic purposes and in amounts below specific volumes. The Water Code prohibits discharge of substances that may negatively affect water resources. Under the Water Code, local governments are responsible for water supply.

The Pastoral Charter, which governs use of natural resources by pastoralists, provides free access to rivers, ponds, and lakes in the public domain for watering animals. Pastoralists are responsible for respecting the rights of others and using water in a manner that does not abuse or waste the resource. Access to private and traditional wells is subject to permission and terms imposed by the owners.

Institutional Framework

The Ministry of Energy and Water Resources, which replaced the Ministry of Mines, Energy and Water Resources, oversees water for hydroelectricity and irrigation. Large-scale irrigation schemes are overseen by parastatal agencies such as the Office du Niger. The Commission of Regulation of Water and Electricity is an independent entity that works with the Ministry of Energy and Water to develop water and sanitation plans and ensure that mining operators respect regulations. The commission has the authority to impose regulations on any department, contracting authority, user, and legally recognized operator. The National Directorate of Water and the National Directorate for Environment are charged with overseeing efforts to improve drinking water and sanitation, respectively. The Ministry of Urbanism and Habitat is responsible for drinking water and sanitation in the urban areas.

Decentralization has divided local government control of WSS services among approximately 700 administrative districts, or communes, in Mali. Around 19 of these communes are urban areas including six communes in Bamako. A private sector company, Energie de Malian SA (EDM), provides WSS service in 16 urban areas, with the remaining areas receiving service from local commune authorities and private sector operators. Over the WSS sector is the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Water (MMEE). Within the ministry, the National Department of Hydraulics (DHN) is tasked with providing executive, regulation, financial, and technical support to communal WSS service providers. The DNH functions primarily through its regional and sub-regional offices. The DNH is scheduled to be renamed to the Malian Agency for Water and Sanitation.

Sanitation coverage is likely to be much lower than government estimates as overlapping roles and responsibilities of key agencies may have slowed improvements in the sanitation sub-sector. In 1998, the National Department of Sanitation, Pollution, and Nuisance Control (DNACPN) was created; however, it has no budget to operate. Moreover, the Department now forms part of the Ministry of Environment and Sanitation whose coordination with other departments dealing with sanitation issues is proving increasingly problematic.

The Urban Sub-sector

Mali’s urban WSS sector has experienced remarkable access growth from 50 percent in 1990 to 86 percent in 2006. EDM holds a concession contract with the government to provide water services to 16 urban communes. EDM is also required to contribute to new investments in order to catalyze expansion of water service coverage. EDM appears to operate relatively efficiently compared with other utilities in West Africa.

Mali’s institutional framework for sanitation service is disorganized, with several agencies sharing responsibilities. Additionally, Mali classifies sanitation as primarily a household responsibility rather than one in which the state can play a constructive role. Yet, sanitation services are slowly improving. Financing for “mini-sewerage systems” is available through the Malian Office of Habitat. Cost recovery remains elusive with mini-sewerage systems only recouping 20 percent of the required revenue to pay for operation and maintenance costs, but to date several urban areas have received or are currently receiving funding for these types of systems. These urban areas include Bankoni, Baco Djicoroni, Djenné, and Timbuktu.

The Rural Sub-sector

Expanding WSS services to the rural sub-sector is the responsibility of the DNH and its regional and sub-regional offices. Even though this is the case, many sub-regional offices are not operational. Providing WSS services in rural areas falls to the communes. Communes are responsible for the planning, construction, and operation of water infrastructure within their individual jurisdictions. The DNH supports these operations with technical assistance. Rural areas receive funding for planning and infrastructure projects through the National Agency of Collective Territory Investment (ANICT). However, to receive funding, the communes must put up a 20 percent match from their own revenues.

Although these roles and responsibilities are to some degree clearly laid out, communal water service providers hardly function. Cost recovery mechanisms are almost non-existent, creating chronic maintenance problems. In particular, pump operation and maintenance is woefully inadequate. Very few communes have established maintenance funds in order to retain mechanics for pump servicing and repairs. Opportunities to build the capacity of communes to operate and maintain their systems are evident. Additionally, Mali’s private sector participation in operation and maintenance functions could perform better with greater market development.

Country Profile: Water Sector Coordination

See Sector coordination sub-page for detailed description

Country Profile: Trends in Water Use, Management and Sanitation

Country Profile: Challenges and Opportunities

Donor Involvement

Approximately 80 percent of Mali’s water sector investments come from outside donors. An inter-ministerial water and sanitation committee head sector coordination. The DNH serves in the capacity of technical adviser while the water resources management commission and the environment commission often hold additional joint monthly meetings. The sector hosts more than 20 bilateral and multi-lateral technical and financial partners. Chief among these organizations are the African Development Bank, DANIDA, France, Germany, and the World Bank.

As part of its strategy to promote poverty reduction through development of the agricultural sector, USAID supports development and maintenance of the irrigation infrastructure. USAID has funded the installation of nine irrigation pumps in northern Mali, and has facilitated the rehabilitation of major canals in critical areas. The Integrated Initiatives for Economic Growth in Mali (IICEM) project began in 2007 and is scheduled to end in September 2010. Since the project began, more than 4.3 kilometers of major canals have been resurfaced, which has improved water management and production on 1259 hectares of farmland.

The World Bank provides support for a Rural Community Development Project, which focuses on agriculture, fishing, forestry, water, sanitation and flood protection. The total budget for the project is US $60 million, with approximately 5% allocated to funding for water, sanitation and flood protection. The Bank also provides support for ongoing development of the irrigation infrastructure through the Office du Niger project (US $240 million). This project was designed to restructure the Office du Niger and reform its irrigation policies, to modernize and rehabilitate irrigation canals, and to improve farmers’ incomes. Through the project, 57 kilometers of canals and drains were rehabilitated and modernized, water-fee collection rates increased from 60% to 97%, the financial standing of the Office du Niger improved, and farmer participation on water management committees increased.

GTZ supports capacity-building and institutional development of the local government entities in the decentralization of the administration of supplying drinking water to the people of Mali.


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5 most recently updated publications on Mali

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Who is Who

People working in Mali

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Organizations working in Mali
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See also

External Resources



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