Sweden's support for democracy and human rights has a special focus on women’s and girls’ influence, security and equal opportunities.
Photo: Susanna Hughes, Sida
Our work in Mali
Mali is one of the world’s poorest countries that are exposed to both climate change and instability. The people are very vulnerable and the humanitarian crises are recurring. Swedish development assistance aims to contribute to reducing this vulnerability by strengthening the contract between the government and the country’s citizens and at the same time reducing the risk of conflicts.
Sweden has had bilateral development cooperation with Mali since the end of the 1990s, mainly focused on the following areas:
Democracy, gender equality and human rights
Mali is one of the world’s poorest countries. Despite regular free and fair elections, the implementation of which Sweden supports, democracy is weak. The level of education is very low and few people are aware of their rights. Traditional power structures limit the possibilities of the weak to demand their rights.
Sweden has a particular focus on women’s and girls’ influence, security and equal opportunities. In 2011, controversial family legislation was adopted that was a set-back for the rights of women and children. At the same time, gender equality gained an important role in the country’s poverty strategy and a national policy for gender equality was developed.
Sweden provides support to several organisations in civil society that work to strengthen democracy at a local level and a programme that is run by UNICEF to strengthen the rights of women and children. By increasing people’s knowledge of child abuse, child labour and genital mutilation of girls, opinions are formed for change. Thanks to Swedish support for an organisation of lawyers, women subjected to gender-related violence during the conflict of 2012-2013 have received rehabilitation and legal assistance.
It is important to be able to plan and measure the results of the country’s policies. An important support therefore goes to the statistics agency INSTAT’s cooperation with Statistics Sweden (SCB) to strengthen the ability to produce and distribute reliable statistics.
Through support to the media sector, Mali’s citizens receive information about the peace process. This has led to greater knowledge of the conflict and of the importance of dialogue as a method to resolve conflicts.
As a result of climate changes and a growing population, the supply of land for farming and grazing is decreasing. Sweden therefore supports the work with local conflict management in land disputes, which has contributed to fewer conflicts between livestock breeders and farmers.
Environment, climate and resilience
Four out of five Malians live on natural resource use (farming, forestry, fishing and livestock). Only one fifth of the land is arable and the Sahara desert is spreading in the north. The problems are exacerbated by unsustainable deforestation. Sweden is supporting the work of developing sustainable strategies and methods for natural resource use, mainly forestry and fishing.
This includes the GEDEFOR programme that aims to preserve the forest by moving the administration of the forest’s resources from the central authorities to local municipalities that represent the local population. People also learn bee-keeping, livestock breeding or gardening, which provides extra income and contributes to the forest not being overexploited.
Swedish support in forestry and climate has shown positive results. Among other things, it has contributed to alternative income possibilities for women and improving the business status of women and their families through the cultivation of vegetables and more varied food. Sweden has also provided a loan guarantee to Malian banks to increase lending to women entrepreneurs, and contributed to a fund for climate investments.
Sweden supports the work of increasing resilience to recurring dry periods for people in the countryside with a special emphasis on women and children. This involves improved and alternative agricultural methods, and access to water and sanitation.
After the 2015 peace accord was signed in Mali between the government and Islamic groups, the situation mainly in the cities has stabilised, but is still uncertain. The crisis in Mali is above all a security crisis that causes humanitarian needs, but crop failure due to drought or flooding still affects the country, especially in the north.
Sweden’s bilateral cooperation with Mali focuses on underlying factors that cause poverty and vulnerability, but alongside this considerable humanitarian aid is also provided for acute needs.
In 2016, Sida contributed SEK 467 million in humanitarian support to the Sahel crisis, which besides Mali covers Cameroon, Chad and Niger. In 2017, Sida initially contributed SEK 46 million for humanitarian response, targeted at UN and civil society organisations.