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With a sparsely populated, predominantly dry land, Mali is a highly undiversified economy exposed to several drivers of fragility. Vulnerability to commodity price fluctuations and to the consequences of climate change, combined with a population growth rate among the highest in the world, have fueled food insecurity, poverty and instability. Delivery of services to the large, sparsely populated territory poses severe challenges in these conditions, and has a negative impact on geographic equity and social cohesion for the Malian population of 15 million. Only ten percent of the population lives in the three Northern regions of Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu, which represent two-thirds of the entire country territory, and contributed 9.5 percent of the country’s GDP before the crisis.
After 18 months of a challenging political transition, in the summer of 2013 Mali held its first presidential elections since the coup d’état of 2012. Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, popularly known as IBK, won a landslide victory in a presidential contest held with strong support from the international community. Given the political, logistical and security challenges, the July 28 presidential elections were considered successful on nearly all counts. With Keïta’s accession to power, efforts to resolve the complex crisis facing Mali enter a new phase, one that will be decisive in consolidating the security and political gains of the past months. Prior to the elections, a preliminary peace agreement was signed on June 18 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
The new authorities are fully aware of the urgent need to confront the thorny security issues in northern Mali. The Keïta government plans to organize a national conference on northern Mali as a prelude to negotiations for the final comprehensive agreement, and to lay the foundations for dialogue and reconciliation. To fully address the security dimension, the Mali government, with the support of external partners, will also need to tackle reform of the defense and security sectors and the development of regional cooperation. The inclusive dialogue will also consider ways to improve administrative, economic and political governance; the return and resettlement of refugees and internally displaced persons; and the protection and promotion of human rights, justice and reconciliation.
The crisis has further aggravated the human development outlook. The crisis has resulted in a large displacement of people from the Northern provinces to neighboring countries (more than 265,000 people) and the south (more than 200,000 people), including more than 35,000 students to the southern provinces, resulting in the overcrowding of social services in the south. The total number of people displaced by the conflict is equivalent to about one third of the population of the three Northern Provinces of Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal. Agricultural output in the North has been impacted by the disruption of farming activities, marketing channels, inputs and financing. At the same time, the displacement puts increased pressure on the already stressed infrastructure and livelihoods of host communities. The water supply networks in the three Northern provinces have become unstable as a result of the lack of fuel, electricity, spare parts, water treatment chemicals, and personnel. In rural areas it has been reported that water supply systems have been vandalized, with solar panels and pumps stolen. Schools have also been damaged, pillaged and occupied, with the loss of materials and furniture. Some mobile phone network assets have been destroyed, and technical teams have been withdrawn. Transport and trade facilities have also been impacted, with much of the equipment and vehicles used by customs to facilitate movements along key transit corridor stolen or vandalized.
Consistent with the improving political and security environment, an economic recovery is under way. Traditional sources of vulnerability (climate change, commodity prices fluctuations) are still latent. The security situation in Mali and the region remains fragile despite recent improvements. In addition, past experience has shown Mali's relatively limited absorption capacity.
Last Updated: September 2013
TDRP’s activities in Mali focus on Knowledge Management. The TDRP provided support to the World Bank team working on the Stresses in the Sahel Region: Risk Vulnerability Analysis study. The study is comprised of four sub-reports that are the result of a collaboration between a Malian think tank, the Observatoire Sahélo-saharien de Géopolitique et Stratégie (OSGS), and the WB/TDRP team of experts.
The TDRP supported the preparation of the study, and therefore, a mission to Mali took place in February and May 2013 to support its completion. The first mission was a scoping exercise to identify the Malian team and start the study. The second mission consisted of holding consultations with stakeholders through workshops to validate the early findings of the study with representatives from Northern Mali as well as local authorities. The outcome of the study was discussed with the World Bank Senior Management during a decision meeting review that took place at the end of June 2013. The report contributes to the analytical body of work that will be crucial in informing future strategy for Mali.
|World Development Indicators|