OverviewThe Republic of Mali, a landlocked country in West Africa, is bordered by Algeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Senegal, and Mauritania. Roughly the size of Texas and California combined, Mali features the hot and dry conditions of the Sahara in the north and the semi-tropical, humid climate of the Niger River valley in the south. Natural resources include gold, phophates, salt, limestone, gypsum, granite, and hydropower. There are iron ore, tin, and copper deposits that are known to exist in Mali, but they are currently not being mined.
More than 90 percent of Mali’s population lives in the more fertile southern region of the country. There are several sub-Saharan ethnic groups living in Mali, including the Bambara, who make up nearly 40 percent of the population. The Malinké and Soninké people live primarily in the south, along with the Sarakole, Dogon, and Songhay peoples, who farm in the Niger River valley. The Fulani are herders located near the central town of Mopti, while the Tuaregs and Moors, herding nomads, live predominantly in the north. French is the official language of the country, but more than 80 percent of Malians speak Bambara.
After several years of French rule and a brief unification with Senegal, Mali declared independence in June 1960. Eight years later, the army overthrew the government in a bloodless coup and established what would be 23 years of military rule. In 1991, dictator Moussa Traoré was overthrown amid increasing pressure to democratize the nation. Amadou Touré led the overthrow and served as temporary head of state through the peaceful transition to a multi-party democracy. Nomadic Tuareg rebels fought against the government in the early 1990s, accusing the administration of cultural marginalization. A peace agreement was later signed allowing for significant development and anti-poverty programs for the Tuaregs. Amadou Touré, who won the popular vote in 2002, was re-elected for a second term as president in 2007.
|The United Nations has recently ranked Mali as the world’s fifth poorest country, based on economic, health, and education indicators. Only 15 percent of boys and 11 percent of girls attend secondary school, and most withdraw from classes by the age of 12. The resulting low adult literacy rates—more common among women than men—have proven to perpetuate the cycle of poverty. |
Approximately 80 percent of Malians engage in agriculture as a source of income, producing cotton, millet, sorghum, and rice. Gold is the primary mining product in the country and, along with cotton and livestock, accounts for nearly 90 percent of export earnings. The high cost of petroleum products, the rise in export costs for gold, and the closure of the main import/export route to the Port of Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire have contributed to Mali’s declining economy in the last three years. Nearly two-thirds of the country lives below the poverty line, and 74 percent lives on less than $2 a day.
Government leaders in Mali face the challenge of improving the health-care system in a nation affected by economic hardship, malnutrition, and high mortality rates. On average, a little more than one child in five does not live to see his fifth birthday—currently sixth worst in the world. Malnutrition affects up to 15 percent of children under five in most areas of the country. Locust infestation and poor rainfall totals have caused a decline in the nutritional status for children. Also, malaria, meningitis, cholera, and tuberculosis are prevalent in Mali. One physician for every 12,500 people compounds the problem.
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World Vision's history in MaliWorld Vision began working in Mali in 1975 after finding a great need for water supplies, agricultural development, and literacy training among the people. A year later, World Vision provided materials to dig 10 freshwater wells, establishing a steady source of clean, safe water as well as offering lifesaving help to people suffering the effects of a severe drought in Timbuktu. Other projects included:
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World Vision in Mali todayWorld Vision is committed to partnering with the people of Mali to enhance their lives today and to help enact sustainable solutions for the future of their communities, families, and children. Currently, 57,790 children are registered in the World Vision sponsorship program. Several times this number of children and other family members benefit from World Vision activities. Of these registered children, many have World Vision sponsors in other countries. U.S. donors sponsor more than 8,500 girls and boys. In addition, World Vision operates 24 development programs, three of which are supported by U.S. donors. Highlights of these efforts include the following:
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