Out of 1,000 newborn children, an average of 94 die before they reach the age of five. Many Malians have no access to safe drinking water, and about 80 per cent lack adequate sanitation. Life expectancy is merely about 59 years. The annual population growth rate is three per cent – 47 per cent of Malians are below the age of fifteen.
The education system is in a bad state. Primary school enrolment is only about 59 per cent, and only about 50 per cent of the children finish primary school. Nearly two-thirds of all adults are illiterate.
About 56 per cent of the people live in rural areas, earning a living from pastoral and arable farming. However, population growth and the rural exodus are fuelling a rapid increase in urbanisation. The government is faced with the difficult task of creating employment opportunities for a fast-growing young population and ensuring access to basic services for all its people.