Mali is a large landlocked country in the desert and Sahel zone of West Africa. Its 17.6 million people, 47 per cent under the age of 15, are spread across 1,240,000 km2, but 90 per cent live in the south, near the Niger and Senegal rivers. The country's economy centers on farming and fishing. Gold and cotton are the main exports, complemented by remittances from migrants working abroad.
A military coup in 2012 was followed by a three-year political and security hiatus. However, normality now seems to be returning, and Mali achieved growth in GDP of 6.0 per cent in 2015 and 5.4 per cent in 2016, according to the World Bank.
In Mali 60 per cent of the people live in rural areas, where farming and agro-pastoralism are the main occupation and poverty runs at 53 per cent. This drives out-migration.
Agricultural production is expected to fall by about 17 per cent by 2050.
Climate change will hit Mali and other Sahel countries hard, shrinking areas used for crops, fishing and pasturage, exacerbating land conflicts, and pushing people to migrate further south, or abroad.
Yet agriculture has great potential for development. The big impediment is lack of access to finance, and the resources and services needed by young people especially to engage in productive activities.
IFAD has been funding projects in Mali, and in particular regions stretching across the Sahara and Sahel, for 30 years.
Activities target poor rural households, and prioritize the needs of women and young people.
Key activities include:
- increasing and diversifying agricultural production;
- ensuring access to basic social services; and
- capacity-building and support for producers’ organizations.
Results-based country strategic opportunities programme (COSOP):
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In Mali, 60 per cent of the population lives in rural areas, where 53 per cent suffer poverty.
Farmers and agro-pastoralists are typically the poorest section of society, with a poverty rate of 57 per cent.
Of the poor people living in rural areas, 90 per cent are located in the south of Mali where population density is highest.
Since 1980 IFAD has supported 13 programmes and projects in Mali totaling US$229.1 million, benefiting more than 516,000 rural households.