Farmers on their way to their fields

Mali Landlocked country with a rich ethnic and cultural diversity

For 20 years, Mali was considered an African success story. When the military dictatorship ended in 1991, a peaceful democratisation process was begun. Mali adopted a new constitution and held free elections.

However, in early 2012, the country experienced a serious political crisis. The President was overthrown, whilst Tuareg rebels and Islamist extremists took power in large parts of the country's northern regions. The situation was further aggravated by a food crisis caused by poor harvests in the entire Sahel region. More than 500,000 people had to flee their homes, seeking refuge in other regions of Mali or outside the country.

In 2013, the country managed to recover from the severe political crisis. The most important factors in this process were the formation of a transitional government, the holding of democratic presidential and parliamentary elections and the support provided by neighbouring countries, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union, the United Nations and France.

In August 2020, there was another military coup and the government of President Keita was removed. In October 2020, a transitional government was appointed for a period of 18 months. At present, it is not yet foreseeable in which direction the political situation in Mali will develop.

The security situation remains fragile

In June 2015, a peace agreement was signed between the government and various armed groups (Algiers Accord). It was agreed, inter alia, to strengthen decentralisation and establish interim administrations tasked with rebuilding the state in the North of the country. Local elections that had been postponed several times were finally held in November 2016.

However, the security situation is still fragile, especially in Mali's three northern regions. Again and again, the Malian government has been forced to impose a state of emergency following terrorist attacks, or to extend the restrictions already in place.

Development cooperation

Germany is supporting the peace process in Mali; development cooperation activities are combined with foreign and security policy efforts.

Development cooperation focuses on the priority areas of decentralisation, agriculture, and water supply and sanitation. Germany is also engaged in the fields of sustainable energy supply and flood protection in the capital Bamako.

Girls in Tienfala, Mali

Many challenges for the government Internal link

Since the dictator Moussa Traoré was overthrown in 1991, the country has seen major changes. Democratic structures have been developed and a programme to promote decentralisation has been initiated.

Children in Tienfala

Living conditions are very hard Internal link

Around half of the population lives in extreme poverty. Out of 1,000 newborn children, an average of 106 die before they reach the age of five. Life expectancy is a mere 58 years.

Tailor with his sewing machine on a street in Bamako, Mali

Most of the population works in agriculture Internal link

Mali's economy is heavily dependent on world market prices for the country's two most important export goods, cotton and gold. The majority of the working population is employed in the agricultural sector.

German development cooperation with Mali

Germany and Mali cooperate at various levels. On the one hand, Germany is supporting the government in its efforts to draw up and implement national policies. On the other hand, it is supporting projects at the local level with a view to directly and tangibly improving people's living conditions.

At the end of 2015, the BMZ committed funds for Mali totalling more than 73 million euros for official development cooperation for the period from 2015 to 2017. In 2016 and 2017, Germany made further commitments of 16.5 million euros and 41.5 million euros.

Development cooperation between Germany and Mali focuses on the following priority areas:

  • Decentralisation and good governance
  • Promotion of productive and sustainable agriculture
  • Drinking water supply and basic sanitation

Germany is also engaged in the fields of sustainable energy supply and resources flood protection in Bamako. In addition, the BMZ supports non-governmental organisations (in particular churches, private executing agencies, agencies engaged in "social structural programmes" and political foundations) that implement projects in Mali.

Employees of the aid organization CARE International from Mali and Niger are working on a project proposal to combat the causes of flight in the region of Mali North and Niger North.

Employees of the aid organization CARE International from Mali and Niger are working on a project proposal to combat the causes of flight in the region of Mali North and Niger North.

Employees of the aid organization CARE International from Mali and Niger are working on a project proposal to combat the causes of flight in the region of Mali North and Niger North.

Germany is involved in development cooperation activities in the north of Mali, too, for example by supporting the setting up of a transitional administration in the northern regions of the country and by helping to further develop and extend access to water in Timbuktu. Some of the projects the BMZ is supporting in these northern regions have been brought under the umbrella of the EU Migration Partnership with Mali, which is meant to help tackle the root causes of displacement.

And through its payments into the World Bank's Sahel Adaptive Social Protection Programme (50 million euros) and the World Food Programme's Sahel Resilience Initiative (55 million euros) in 2018, the BMZ made a contribution to improving social protection, food security and resilience in the Group of 5 Sahel countries, which includes Mali.

To ensure that various donors' activities in Mali and the entire Sahel region are better coordinated, in July 2017 France's President Emmanuel Macron and Germany's Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel, together with the EU, founded the Sahel Alliance (External link). The idea behind the Alliance is for the donor countries to work together to coordinate and align their efforts, and to engage in policy dialogue with the governments of the G5 countries (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger).

Elections in Mali. A woman standing in front of electoral lists at the district administration of Tienfala.

Building responsive administrative structures Internal link

Decentralisation is seen in Mali as one of the key reforms in order to make progress in reducing poverty and achieving peace and stability. In the peace agreement, regions and municipalities play an important role. Giving them greater decision-making competence and transferring more funds is part of this.

Market scene in Bamako

Achieving food security and creating jobs Internal link

Mali's agricultural sector is affected by huge, climate-related variability in production. And the country's high population growth means that the available land is being used more and more intensively.

Women standing at a street in Bamako with water canisters

Improving living conditions Internal link

According to estimates, more than 30 per cent of Mali's population lack access to safe drinking water, with vast differences from one region to another. And only around one fifth of the population has access to proper sanitation facilities.