Sida's work in Mali
Mali is one of the world's poorest and most aid-dependent countries. Sida's work aims to support democratic development with respect for human rights and gender equality, reduce climate impact and contribute to peace and human security. Sida carries out long-term development cooperation in Mali and provides humanitarian aid.
Sida’s support in Mali
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Progress has been made
Fewer children die
Child mortality rates have declined in recent years, but remain among the highest in the world.1
Action plan for the climate
Mali has adopted an action plan on how to meet international climate commitments.
Civil society is relatively free
Civil society organisations are allowed to operate relatively freely, but progress is fragile and recently there have been several high-profile arrests of persons involved in civil society stakeholders.
One of the world’s poorest countries
Almost half the population lives in poverty and the number is increasing.2 Mali is one of the world’s most aid-dependent countries.3
Corruption on the rise
Corruption is widespread and a major obstacle to positive development. In Transparency International’s Corruption Index 2021, the country ranks 136 out of 180 countries, a worsening since 2020.4
Military coups and political instability
The political situation is unstable and the deteriorating security situation means that the country faces major challenges.
Two types of aid in Mali
In Mali, Sida implements development cooperation to contribute to long-term development of the country. We also provide humanitarian assistance to save lives and alleviate suffering in emergency situations.
Political developments and the deteriorating security situation following the military coups affect the whole of society: human security, democracy, human rights and the economy. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the crisis. The state is weak and lacks capacity, presence and control. Corruption is widespread.
Mali is one of the poorest countries in the world, with almost half the population living in poverty and that number on the rise. The majority of people living in poverty are located in densely populated rural areas, with women and children particularly vulnerable.5 Climate impacts with uncertain rainfall, floods and droughts make access to food insecure. The number of internally displaced people (IDPs) is increasing, as are humanitarian needs.
Terrorism and conflicts between groups in Malian society are common and armed violence against civilians is on the rise. Children are particularly vulnerable. This serious crisis poses major challenges for Sida’s work in Mali.
Human rights, democracy, the rule of law and gender equality
The human rights situation continues to deteriorate, particularly for women and young people. Child labour is widespread and gender equality is lacking at all levels of society, despite the fact that the Constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender. Female genital mutilation and gender-based violence are common and increasing.
Empowering young politicians
Young people and women are significantly under-represented among politicians in many of Sida’s partner countries. Sida supports the Program for Young Politicians in Africa (PYPA), a regional leadership programme for young politicians representing different parties in 16 African countries, including Mali. Participants are developed in leadership, planning and advocacy skills, leading to increased influence in the youth alliance and the parent party, particularly in the areas of gender equality, human rights and increased democracy. The programme has led to several participants gaining major party positions, being elected as members of their parties’ boards, being elected to parliament or becoming mayors.
The project is a collaboration between national organisations and the International Foundation of the Centre Party (CIS), Green Forum, Olof Palme International Centre (OPC) and Christian Democratic International Centre (KIC).
Legal aid during the crisis
With Sida’s support to the organisation DEMESO, access to legal aid for people living in poverty has increased. In Mali, over 600 legal assistants have provided legal advice, guidance and mediation to over 300,000 people. Legal aid offices and legal aid clinics are able to carry out their activities despite major security challenges. Women and prisoners are a particular priority.
Article: DEMESO gives hope to the vulnerable – legal aid in Mali (in swedish)
Protecting children and women
The severe crisis has further exacerbated the situation of children and women. Through its support to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), Sida is helping to protect children, get more girls into school, reduce violence against women and children in the home and raise awareness of the health problems associated with female genital mutilation (FGM).
Strengthening local organisations
Many of the country’s CSO’s operate in a relatively benign environment, but in recent years the number of arrests of people working in CSO’s has increased. Through Diakonia, Sida is supporting a project that strengthens civil society stakeholders in 40 Malian municipalities to, among other things, manage land conflicts in a peaceful way.
Peaceful and inclusive societies
The security situation in Mali is serious. Achieving peace and reconciliation is urgent, but made more difficult by the ongoing crisis. Sida’s work aims to improve the conditions for conflict resolution. This is done, among other things, through support for local conflict management, including the resolution of land conflicts.
Women participate in efforts to promote peace
Women do not participate in building peace to the same extent as men. The participation of all groups in society in peace and reconciliation work is important for democracy and human rights. Sida supports the UN’s Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Unit (UN Women), which works to strengthen women’s participation in conflict resolution.
Working for peace and resolving conflicts
Mercy Corp works in crisis-affected areas to prevent the further spread of violence and seeks to mitigate conflict peacefully. The programme includes land and natural resource management, income generation, conflict prevention and conflict resolution and increased capacity to solve conflicts. Through support to land commissions, Sida contributes to the resolution of land conflicts. The UN Trust Fund also implements peace-building projects in the agricultural sector.
Environment, climate, resilience, sustainable use of natural resources and biodiversity
Four out of five Malians make their living from natural resources (land, forest, fishing and livestock). Only a fifth of the land is arable and the Sahara desert is spreading in the north. The problems are exacerbated by unsustainable deforestation and land use.6
Sida’s work will contribute to reducing climate impacts and increasing resilience to climate change. Sustainable agriculture, improved food access and sustainable income are key areas for achieving sustainable economic development for all in Mali. Support for water and sanitation, renewable energy and social protection systems is also included.
Better management of natural resources and more food
NIRAS brings together sustainable use of natural resources and improved food security. The work focuses on new livelihoods for vulnerable groups, combined with afforestation and wetland restoration, which in turn improves both natural resource management and food security.
Electricity hubs in rural areas
Many people in rural areas lack access to electricity. Sida supports the Geres organisation, which is building electricity hubs in rural areas in central and southern Mali, where so-called micro-enterprises with fewer than ten employees are given the opportunity to rent space.
Sustainable electricity and green jobs
To provide more people with access to electricity, Sida runs the Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa – an initiative that aims to increase access to sustainable electricity, improve income opportunities for people living in poverty and contribute to economic activity. The Beyond the Grid Fund for Africa operates in several African countries, including Mali.
Better access to drinking water and sanitation
Many people in Mali lack access to clean water, toilets and washing facilities. Through Sida’s support to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), more people, especially women and children, have access to drinking water and sanitation. UNICEF works on everything from construction and maintenance to protection.
Support for entrepreneurs in green jobs
Climate change is contributing to erratic rainfall, more desert storms and an increased risk of drought. Through the Mali Folk Center, local entrepreneurs are empowered to contribute to the development of innovative and improved climate solutions in traditional sectors. The programme has a strong focus on green jobs, digitalisation, as well as inclusive finance and support for local resource pools for the benefit of entrepreneurs.
How Sida's work in Mali is governed
Sources on this page
- Child mortality statistics for Mali on UNICEF website
- Percentage of people living in poverty in Mali on the World Bank website
- Aid dependency in Mali on Reliefweb
- Corruption in Mali in Transparency International’s Index 2021
- Statistics on poverty in Mali on the World Bank website
- Percentage of people in Mali who earn their living from agriculture and the percentage of arable land on International Trade Administration website
The humanitarian crisis has worsened and one in three Malians will be in need of humanitarian assistance by 2022. The number is expected to reach around 7.5 million people by 2022.1 People are struggling to access food, water, health, education, shelter and protection services. Women and children are particularly vulnerable. Nearly 2 million people are expected to suffer from acute food shortages this summer.2
In addition, the number of internally displaced persons has risen to over 400,000. In addition, there are over 600,000 returnees and over 55,000 refugees from neighbouring countries.3
The main causes are conflicts between communities and growing instability, with armed groups including jihadists putting pressure on society. People are abducted, murdered, mutilated, or subjected to sexual violence. Children are recruited into armed groups and people’s houses and other property are destroyed. Mines and explosive remnants of war are another tangible threat. This makes it difficult for people to both work and move freely. Climate change, with droughts and floods, increases vulnerability, as does the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Humanitarian aid to Mali
Sida prioritises emergency support for the most vulnerable people in remote areas. We also support efforts that strengthen protection, international human rights and international humanitarian law. Here is a selection of the actions that Sida supports.
Acute food production
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) works on food and livestock production in the country’s central and northern regions. Interventions target vulnerable households affected by floods, returnees with insecure access to food, internally displaced people and communities hosting internally displaced people. Single women with families are a particular priority.
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) carries out life-saving operations in the remote Ansongo region and elsewhere. The IRC provides protection analysis and psychosocial support to children and their parents, provides clean water and works to reduce the vulnerability of girls and women. Cash grants to give people rapid access to shelter and protection services are included in the support.
Conflict management and education for children
The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) works to protect the rights of IDPs and other vulnerable groups in remote areas and to provide emergency assistance and protection. For example, NRC provides legal assistance and supports processes to mediate between communities to avoid conflict.
Preventing gender-based violence
UNHCR’s priorities include protecting children, preventing gender-based violence and helping survivors with education and livelihoods. They also increase trust and social cohesion by preventing conflict and increasing the protection of affected people.
Care for people affected by violence
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) strengthens the protection of people affected by armed conflict and other situations of violence by maintaining a dialogue with the parties concerned. The ICRC also provides access to care and protection for patients, health workers and health facilities. Work focuses on increasing the livelihoods and resilience of people affected by violence, such as those recently displaced from their homes, particularly in remote areas.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is leading efforts to protect children and provide water, sanitation, hygiene and other services. UNICEF supports partners to increase their capacity regarding coordination, preparedness and priority interventions.
Updated: October 5, 2022