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Germany is one of Mali’s most important international development partners and has engaged in financial and technical cooperation with the West African country since 1960, when Mali gained its independence. On behalf of the German Government, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is working to build the capacities of Mali’s central government, public authorities, municipalities, civil society organisations and private sector. GIZ currently has 33 international and 230 local staff, one seconded expert and six development workers in the country. 

Landlocked Mali – which is more than three times larger than Germany – faces major challenges: it must consolidate basic government functions and public services throughout the country, expand production and build crisis resilience in the agricultural sector, foster economic growth and increase the own-source revenues raised by the state.

Following a rebellion, a military coup in the capital Bamako and the subsequent occupation of the three northern regions by separatist rebels allied with Islamist terror groups, Mali has been in the grip of a deep political and security crisis since 2012. Despite intensive efforts by the international community and the signing of an Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali in 2015, stability and peace are not yet within reach; this is due to weak governance in the conflict regions and the emergence of new flashpoints. Implementing the peace agreement, with a focus on the provision of amenities to meet the public’s needs, is a major challenge.

GIZ currently focuses on three priority areas in Mali:

  • Decentralisation and good governance
  • Promotion of a productive and sustainable agricultural sector
  • Water and sanitation.

The 2012 crisis highlighted the key importance of decentralisation for governance in Mali but also revealed areas of weakness. With the state unable to function effectively at all levels, economic development slowed and this led to a decline in employment, with particularly adverse consequences for the Malian population. In order to bring the crisis to a permanent end, the Government of Mali therefore regards decentralisation as a priority. GIZ is working to strengthen the institutional frameworks for (fiscal) decentralisation, improve the economic performance of Mali’s regions and expand the mechanisms for governance and citizen participation.

A further aim is to counteract radicalisation and separatism by generating tangible peace dividends, such as security and basic social services, particularly for communities in the regions worst affected by the conflict.

In agriculture, GIZ is promoting more intensive use of small-scale irrigation, which enables farmers to produce good harvests even in years with little rainfall. GIZ is also training women to process their harvests properly and market their produce. Supporting livelihood security in this way, particularly in the Inner Niger Delta close to the northern region, also has a positive effect on social stability by building crisis resilience and social cohesion, as radicalism is less likely to flourish in a robust economy.

In order to increase access to safe drinking water and sanitation and thus improve living conditions, GIZ provides advisory services to the ministries responsible for implementing Mali’s Water and Sanitation Sector Programme, for example. A key objective is to achieve compliance with international water sector standards as a basis for ensuring an improved water supply for Mali, in terms of both quality and quantity, in future. GIZ’s support focuses on professional operation of infrastructure, transparent regulation, civil society participation and stakeholder cooperation.

Under another programme, GIZ supports the fragile peace process, for example through participatory dialogue which promotes national reconciliation and through small projects that improve living conditions. It is also supporting the newly established institutions comprising Mali’s peace architecture, namely the Ministry of National Reconciliation, the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission and the High Representative of the President for the Implementation of the Peace Agreement.

GIZ’s other fields of action in Mali include adaptation to climate change, energy access and sustainable resource governance. Through a regional partnership with the African Union, GIZ is also supporting cross-border cooperation between Mali and its neighbours Burkina Faso, Niger, Guinea and Senegal.