Improving the rural drinking water supply and sanitation in Mali

Project description

Title: Sustainable water and sanitation services in Mali
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Mali
Lead executing agency: Ministère de l’Energie et de l‘Eau
Overall term: 2021 to 2022



The population in Mali has insufficient access to clean drinking water and basic sanitation. This is a major obstacle to development in the country. In rural areas, only about two thirds of people have access to drinking water and less than one third have access to sanitation. This situation is exacerbated by an annual population growth rate of 3.6 per cent. For this reason, Mali has set itself the objective of ensuring the entire population can access hygienically safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2030.

Since 2002, the 703 local authorities across the country have been responsible for the properly functioning drinking water and sanitation system. As yet, however, there is no professionally run countrywide infrastructure development organised by private or municipal suppliers. Financing and personnel are currently lacking. The local authorities therefore limit themselves to contracting out the operation of drinking water facilities, although they usually have to mobilise funding themselves. From 2015 to 2019, in 38 local authority areas in the regions of Mopti, Kayes and Koulikoro, the predecessor project supported local-level and regional-level sectoral authorities in establishing specialised municipal associations that are better able to fulfill these tasks. However, there is no national financing mechanism and the country is still heavily dependent on foreign funds for infrastructure projects. 

The national sectoral authorities do not yet guarantee independent administration of the rural drinking water supply with social water tariffs. Accredited private-sector inspectors are responsible for controls and regulatory tasks. Coordination in the sanitation sector is limited and many non-governmental organisations act directly without informing the authorities. Democratic accountability, transparency and the involvement of civil society are poorly developed in this area. 


Drinking water and sanitation services have improved for more than 485,000 people in 22 rural partner communities in the regions of Koulikororo and Kayes. Of these, about 44 per cent are classified as poor.



The current project is building on the results of its predecessor, which initiated the first changes between 2015 and 2019. In this process, it cooperates with the ministries of water and environment and the relevant national, regional and local sectoral authorities. 

Other important partners are the national regulatory authority and the accredited inspectors. With their assistance, the project is improving the evaluation of water utilities. This makes it easier to monitor the increased professionalism targeted among the rural utilities. 

By the end of 2020, the project will put in place the initial sanitation supply chains in rural areas and smaller towns. To this end, it is conducting pilot measures with three specialised community associations, such as the construction of private and public latrines and decentralised treatment plants for sewage sludge. As of 2021, management of the new infrastructure will be taken over by local small enterprises. 

As part of the special measures owing to COVID-19, the project is supporting small-scale cash-for-work activities. This includes the introduction of waste collection systems and decentralised waste incineration plants with engines powered by biogas.

The project also provides advice on how to integrate the authorities of the Ministry of Water and Environment into the newly created regional and local administrative units.



A standard service contract has been developed for water infrastructure operation. The National Water Directorate is introducing this contract nationwide.

A strategy for cooperation between municipalities has been developed. This is increasing the broad-based impact of the water supply and sanitation measures. The number of communities receiving support is increasing from 12 to 38.

Through the training of 20 trainers in its regions, the project aims to achieve a multiplier effect. In 130 operator committees, training courses are being run with the assistance of the trainers at local level.

The tender documents for recruiting new service providers for a nationwide technical and financial audit have been revised on behalf of the ministries. The regular support activities are bringing improvements to the operations.

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