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Irrigation in Mali


About the country

Landlocked Mali is the 24 largest country in the World and ranks 175 out of 188 countries in the human development index, 60% of the 18 million population lives below the poverty line, most of them women and children in rural areas.

With an undiversified economy depending on gold mining and agriculture (the latter occupying 80% of the population), it is highly vulnerable to commodity price fluctuations and to the consequences of climate change.


In spite of repeated military coups, Mali is a constitutional democracy.  The outbreak of crisis in Northern Mali in 2011 has had a significant impact: half of the 1.2million people living in the region were displaced, growth fell from +5% to -2%, also as a result of foreigners, cooperants and tourists, fleeing the country.


The economy has since bounced back, with GDP growth above 5% in 2014-17, although physical insecurity, high population growth, corruption (it ranks 127/177 in the corruption perception index, just above Russia according to Transparency International), weak infrastructure, and low levels of human capital continue to constrain economic development.

It is considered a high priority country for the Luxembourg Ministry of Cooperation.

Climate ranges from tropical in the south to arid in the north, with 65% of the land area desert or semi desert. Since 1950, temperatures in the region where we operate are said to have risen by 1°C, while rainfall decreased by 48%.  1/6 trees have died since, 1/5 species have disappeared. Trees have shifted south towards wetter areas.


Main objectives

Tiediana, the target village for the project is situated in the south-east, in the San region. It once relied on a stream and a natural lake to irrigate fields and fill fishponds, but in the last years, it was dry more that 6 months per year, with a growing impact on deforestation, soil erosion, and consequently on population nutrition and economic development.


Key principles


The projects consists in building 3 dams across the dried river bed, creating a 34Ha lake at its peak, causing the groundwater level to raise by 5m in a 15m radius around the lake, allowing restoration of forests and agricultural areas over at least 40Ha, directly impacting 5,170 persons in the neighboring village, and an additional 21,870 persons in the surrounding area.


Moreover, we are implementing revenue generating activities with a determined gender balance consisting essentially in agriculture with a refocus on livelihood and excluding the once state promoted cotton agriculture, as well as fishponds creation.  These will have the double impact of improving the population’s living conditions with a focus on women and allowing for an estimated 1/3 of the net revenues to be re-injected in the project to guarantee its sustainability over time.


We are eventually replanting trees around the fields for erosion protection and shading and reforesting with diversified species over 40Ha to fight desertification.

In cooperation with SOS Sahel International Luxembourg :

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