Our work in Mali

Published: Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Changed: Thursday, June 27, 2013

Sweden began providing development assistance to Mali in the late 90s. The cooperation strategy that was adopted by the Swedish government in 2004 still applies. The overall goal is to contribute to creating opportunities for poor people to improve their lives.

In 2012 and 2013, development cooperation has been affected by the political crisis that followed the Tuareg rebellion in northern Mali in 2012, followed by occupation by armed Islamist groups and a military coup d’état. The occupied areas were recaptured by a French military intervention in early 2013 with support from the UN, the Malian army and an African-led force, AFISMA.

Sweden's bilateral development cooperation with the state and its institutions was suspended in 2012 after the military coup but the cooperation through the United Nations and civil society increased. In January, Mali adopted a roadmap for the restoration of territorial integrity and the return to democratic rule. In April 2013, the Swedish government decided to resume bilateral development cooperation with Mali.

The development cooperation mainly focuses on the following areas:

Democratic governance and social development

Mali is one of the world's poorest countries. The level of education is very low and few people are aware of their rights. Traditional power structures limit the vulnerable people’s ability to demand their rights. Sweden's support for democracy and human rights has a special focus on women’s and girls’ influence, security and equal opportunities. The controversial family law that was adopted in 2011 was a setback for women's and children's rights. At the same time, a gender perspective has been integrated into the poverty reduction strategy and a national gender policy has been developed.

Sweden supports several civil society organisations working with democracy at a local level as well as a UNICEF programme to strengthen children’s and women's rights. By raising awareness of child abuse, child labor and sexual mutilation of girls, a public opinion for change can grow.

Sweden has also decided to support the implementation of presidential and parliamentary elections in 2013, for a return to democratic rule.

Sustainable development of natural resources

Environment and sustainable development are key issues for poverty reduction and development. Four out of five Malians are living off natural resources (agriculture, forests, fishing and livestock). Only one fifth of the land is arable and the Sahara Desert is spreading in the north of the country. The pressure on available land becomes harder. Arable land and pastures are being overused, with local conflicts between farmers and cattle breeders. Unsustainable logging further worsens the situation. Sweden supports the development of strategies and methods for a sustainable natural resource management. The support focuses on forest and water sectors, including the GEDEFOR programme  to promote decentralized forest management linked to energy consumption and the development of private sector activities. The intervention will help preserve forests by decentralizing its management and give people an opportunity for alternative livelihoods.

The Swedish support within forestry and climate change has contributed to positive results, for example to alternative income opportunities in women’s organisations and to improving the nutritional status of women and their families by growing vegetables and eating a more varied diet.

We have initiated support to increase the resilience to recurrent droughts for people in rural areas, with a special focus on women and children. The intervention involves improved and alternative agricultural methods and access to water and sanitation.

Economic development for poor

By means of the budget support, Sweden has contributed to a long-term policy to reduce poverty in Mali. The aid was suspended after the coup d’état in 2012. The crisis has however resulted in increasing poverty due to loss of income, rising prices and the suspended assistance.

Support has also been used to improve the country's system of public finances and to strengthen the statistical system. This is important in order to plan and measure the results of the country's politics. One important funding is the national institute of statistics (INSTAT's) sister collaboration with Statistics Sweden (SCB),  to strengthen its capacity to produce and disseminate reliable statistics.

Humanitarian assistance

Sweden has extended its humanitarian aid since 2012 as a result of the food crisis after the drought across the Sahel region in 2011. The conflict in northern Mali has exacerbated the humanitarian crisis, in particular with refugees to neighboring countries as well as internal refugees to southern Mali. The support is particularly focused on refugees and internally displaced persons, protection of children, water/sanitation, food/food security, removal of mines and ammunition and logistics support to the United Nations. This is being implemented by organisations such as UNHCR, UNICEF, the International Red Cross, Save the Children and the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency, MSB.

Read more about the developments in Mali 

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Additional reading

These reports by Pr Yves Bourdet et. al. analyses gender in the division and allocation of resources and opportunities in Mali as well as labour intensive work, so called Haute Intensité de Main-d'Oeuvre, as an instrument for poverty reduction. In the first report, "Inégalités de genre, croissance et lutte contre la pauvreté au Mali", the impact of inequality on economic growth is discussed. It provides a better understanding of the constraints that maintain structural and institutional differences as an obstacle to the strategy of poverty reduction.

Additional reading

These reports by Pr Yves Bourdet et. al. analyses gender in the division and allocation of resources and opportunities in Mali as well as labour intensive work, so called Haute Intensité de Main-d'Oeuvre, as an instrument for poverty reduction. The second report, "HIMO et lutte contre la pauvreté au Mali", raises a number of important aspects as regards the use of labour-intensive activities in the fight against poverty in Mali. A number of recommendations are given how the use of HIMO measures could be rendered more efficient within the framework of the new poverty reduction strategy, CSCRP 2012-2017, notably through: i) a better focus of the type of HIMO works/activities; ii) a more strategic selection of target groups and geographic coverage of the activities, as well as; III) a strengthened monitoring and evaluation framework.
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