Swedish aid to Mali stopped until further notice. Due to the current political situation in Mali, the Swedish government has announced that it will stop long-term development cooperation with Mali for the time being. Mali is one of the four countries that receives so-called general budget support (GBS) from Sweden. The total amount of aid to Mali in 2012 was scheduled for just over SEK 320 million, half of which is GBS. Humanitarian operations are not covered by the stop of aid payments.
With the support of several donor countries, Mali launched its current strategy to combat poverty in 2006. The government has taken greater control of how it will combat poverty, and the donor group has become better co-ordinated in supporting the country’s policy. We are now focusing greater efforts within the areas of democracy, the environment and health.
Economic improvements that benefit the poor
The level of literacy in Mali is very low, particularly among women. Through budgetary support, we are therefore supporting the government’s programme to improve its education system. Major investments have led to the share of children in schools rising to almost 80 per cent, an increase of 20 per cent since 2001.
The budgetary support also goes towards improving the country’s systems for public finances. We are also working with the long-term aim of improving the statistics system in Mali. This is important, both in being able to plan and measure the result of the government’s policies. One important area of support is statistics authority INSTAT’s cooperation with Statistics Sweden (SCB). Through this, INSTAT can improve its ability to produce and spread reliable statistics.
Democratic governance and social development
The political priorities at the national level have not yet filtered down to the millions of poor people in the rural areas. The level of education is very low, and few citizens are aware of their rights. Traditional power structures are further limiting many people’s ability to demand their rights.
We provide support to several civil society organizations that work to improve democracy. UNICEF is running one project in Mali to improve children’s rights. Raising awareness about child abuse, child labour and the genital mutilation of girls will help turn public opinion towards change.
Support was earlier also provided towards improving the deficient health care system. An increase in health centres has improved access to health and medical care in recent years. For the first time in 10 years, we are now seeing maternal mortality fall in Mali.
The environment and natural resources
The environment and sustainable development are issues for future concern for Mali because four out of five Malians support themselves from land management (farming, forestry and cattle). Only one-fifth of the land is arable, and the Sahara covers northern Mali. This means that there is increasing pressure on the remainder of the land; pastures are overused, and local conflicts arise between farmers and nomadic cattle farmers. The problems are made worse by unsustainable logging. We are helping to develop strategies to create an economy based on sustainable development. Sida’s support within this area is still being developed and will be mainly focused on the forestry and water sectors.
In 2009, a project began to promote decentralized forestry management, with connections to energy usage and the development of the private sector. Together with Denmark, Sida is also preparing a programme for water and sanitation, which will begin in 2010.
Through the PAGEIT project, we are co-operating with the Netherlands and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (UICN) to protect the ecological diversity in the Niger River’s delta areas. This work involves replanting forests and assisting the local population in changing their production methods to better promote sustainable development.
Find out more about the PAGEIT environmental project in Mali