so, although the country
opened up to outside trade and investment, life in Mali only slowly began to
change for the better with many of its natural resources underexploited.
Today life in Mali is
again under threat following a recent coup and a
breakaway movement in the north of the country. With a population of around 13.44 million, life expectancy in Mali is just 50 years and there are 116 deaths for every 1000 births. Under 50% of the population is
illiterate against a backdrop of Mali being one of the 25 poorest countries in the world. Despite this, Mali is working closely with international organisations and its economy is now growing although 80% of its population rely on
subsistence farming and fishing in a country where 65% of the
land is either desert or semi-desert.
Life in Mali remains tough particularly for its children.
School and education is not available for all children, Mali has
thousands of children living on the streets, and there are some
75,000 children orphaned through AIDS alone. In rural areas electricity is rarely
known, and treks to water wells are part of a daily routine of
struggle. “A ye wuli! A ye wuli!” is the first thing families in
Mali villages will hear at the dawn of a new day then, after a
few domestic tasks, its time for morning prayers in this mainly Muslim
country. For many its then a long walk to the well to
fetch water. It is estimated that only 27% of villagers in Mali
have access to safe drinking water and even less have access to
sanitation making for a breeding ground of water based
infections resulting in one in five Mali village children dying
before their fifth birthday. Many of the existing wells and
boreholes have broken pumps, accounting for one third of the