Life in Mali

As with so many countries across Africa, independence from France in 1960 did not bring the long awaited freedom and chance for self fulfilment, but coups, rebellions and decades of military dictatorships until the 'soldier of democracy', Amadou Toumani Toure, overthrew military chief Moussa Traore and installed a transitional committee which held elections seeing Alpha Konare installed as Mali's first democratically elected president in 1992.

This election ushered in a period of relative political stability however the economy and infrastructure of the country had been badly mismanaged for decades

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 total.


Life in Mali

Life in Mali

Life in Mali

Life in Mali


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Life in Mali

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Life in Mali

After the water has been carried back to a home made from mud bricks with a thatched grass roof (or a log roof filled with mud) the preparation of breakfast on an outside stove fuelled by firewood starts in a compound shared with the family's animals including goats, sheep and chickens. (Electricity in rural areas is only available to between 2-3% of the population rising to 10% for the country as a whole.)

Then the village children who actually attend will set off for school, often many miles away in more rural areas and the man of the house will go off to work on the land whilst the mother carries out household chores or makes things that can be sold at market. Many children, nearly half, also stay away from school to help with these chores which doesn't help Mali's already poor literacy levels. Dinner then consists of rice, normally with some sauce, or porridge made from flour and water. Another trip to the well for water and the evening is closed with supper. Then its sleep until the next cry of  “A ye wuli! A ye wuli!” ~ everyone wake up!

This video provide insights into life in Mali for its children and adult population.

Human Development Index Mali

Human Development Index for Mali 1980 - Present

Mali is in 182nd place out of 187 countries in the Human Development Index for 2013 and the chart above shows how levels of poverty and living standards in Mali fall far short of even sub-Saharan standards.


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