MALI.  Declaration of the National Population Policy of Mali of 8 May 1991.  (Declaration de la Politique Nationale de Population du Mali, Bamako, Mali, Government of Mali, Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, National Planning Directorate, 1991.)








            The people are the most important resource of our country.  In this connection, since 1960, the government of Mali has been implementing economic and social development plans aimed at improving the living conditions of Malians through providing education and training, food and nutrition, health care, and housing, etc.  Unfortunately, these efforts have not always borne the expected results because of a combination of factors, especially the following:



-           the international economic crisis that has deeply affected the country since 1980;

-           the drought which, for several years, has been endemic;

-           the increase in desertification;

-           the lack of access both within the country and without; and

-           the high rate of population growth.


            Most of the programs implemented to address the above obstacles have, until now, underestimated, if not simply overlooked, the demographic-economic problems of the country, with the result that the demographic dynamics of the country have been ignored.   This attitude has produced high fertility rates, an increasing imbalance in the geographical distribution of the population, and considerable, most often uncontrolled, international emigration.


            Population programs developed since 1972 have basically focused on the spacing of births in order to protect the health of mothers and children.  They have, therefore, been too limited in scope to change the socio-demographic behavior of the population.




            This statement of Mali's population policy, which has been designed as a response to economic development needs, expresses the will of the government to ensure to all Malians a balanced development while respecting the traditions and customs of the country.  The implementation of the population policy and the achievement of its objectives depend on the support of social groups that, despite current changes, retain, for the most part, a definite structure.


            It is within this social framework that the population policy will be implemented as a part of national development policy.


            The contents of this policy, which challenge the conscience of every Malian, are based on the following principles:


-           respect for and protection of the family;

-           the ability of couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly on the size of their family and the spacing of births of their children.  To this end, the state shall adopt the necessary measures to facilitate their access to the information, education, and the means to which they are entitled;

-           respect for the basic rights of children (survival, health, education, and training).  The state and society shall provide the necessary means to achieve this goal;

-           the need to work towards integrating women in the process of development.





            Population dynamics in Mali and their impact on the country's development policy constitute an obstacle confronting decision-makers and planners every day.


            Satisfying the needs of the population presupposes not only maximizing investments (which is, moreover, very difficult to achieve during this period of economic crisis), but especially controlling demographic growth.  Such a policy would allow:


-           improvement of health coverage in the country;

-           improvement of the rate of education of children of school age;

-           reduction of demographic pressure on the consumption of firewood, which accounts for 93% of energy needs; etc.


            It will be increasingly difficult for the country to support much longer the imbalance between demographic growth and economic development.


            The national population policy, the fundamental objective of which is the improvement of the living conditions of Malians in the areas of education, health, employment, food, nutrition, and housing, etc., envisages a series of intermediate objectives.  These objectives, set forth in ten points, shall contribute to the improvement of the level and quality of life of the people:


1.  Control of demographic growth;

2.  Reduction of morbidity and mortality rates;

3.  Geographical re-distribution of the population;

4.  Integration of international migration in development strategies;

5.  Integration of women in development;

6.  Improvement of the living conditions of children and youth;

7.  Promotion of human resources;

8.  Satisfaction of food requirements;

9.  Protection and preservation of renewable resources; and

10. Improvement of socio-demographic awareness.





            Controlling population growth should be seriously considered because of the changes in the natural population growth rates over the past 30 years.  The Government should adopt measures to ensure that this objective is attained, so as to establish a balance between population growth and the process of socio-economic development.


            This objective shall be achieved by means of two strategies:


-           acceleration of the development process; and

-           increasing control of fertility rates in order to adapt these rates to the socio-economic development of the country.  ACCELERATION OF THE DEVELOPMENT PROCESS


            This strategy has constituted an essential part of various development plans of Mali over the past thirty years.  Several programs have been implemented to remove the obstacles that hinder acceleration of the development of the country.  According to the 1987-1991 Economic and Social Development Plan, these obstacles are:


(i)         First obstacle:  climate, which is considered to be the most significant and the least predictable obstacle, due to its impact on agricultural and livestock production, population movements, and desertification;

(ii)        Second obstacle:  demographic growth, the consequences of which on the satisfaction of the basic needs of the population are felt at all levels (education and training, health, food, housing, etc.);

(iii)       Third obstacle:  the macroeconomic imbalance of development, including, among other things, imbalances in trade with other countries and in public finances.


            While the obstacles related to climatic uncertainties and the macroeconomic imbalance of development have been addressed by specific programs in development plans, such is unfortunately not the case with respect to obstacles caused by demographic growth.  Demographic factors, in particular, fertility and migration, have, until now, benefited from no special attention and are often treated as exogenous factors.  Thus, a certain number of strategies have been planned within the framework of the national population policy to permit these variables to be taken into account in the planning process.  This approach will result, among other things, measures directly affecting fertility and migration.  PROGRESSIVE CONTROL OF FERTILITY RATES


            Fertility rates among Malian women are among the highest in Africa.  The fertility index was 6.77 children per woman in 1987.  This high fertility rate is attributable to early child birth, inadequate spacing of births, and late child birth among women of reproductive age.  In effect, 33% of births occur in women who are less than 20 or more than 35 years old, and the interval between births is less than 20 months.  This fact en   tails serious risks to the health of mothers and children.  According to hospital statistics, deaths related to child birth and pregnancy account for 20 to 25% of the deaths of women.  Further, recent studies and research have shown that infant mortality rates among children born to women who are less than 20 or more than 35 years old are higher than infant mortality rates among those born to women who are between 20 and 34 years old.  Infant mortality rates among children born to young mothers (that is, less than 20 years old) are 25 to 53% higher than infant mortality rates among children born to mothers 20 or more years old.


            Lastly, the multiplication in recent years of cases of illegal abortion and abandonment of children constitutes a social crisis that is difficult to ignore much longer.


            The promotion of family planning to control fertility rates and protect the family has, thus, become necessary and constitutes one of the basic facets of the national population policy.


            The strategy planned within this framework consists of the following elements:


1.         Heightening public awareness about the adverse effects of early marriage, that is, for women under the age of 18 and for men under the age of 21;

2.         Improvement of access to family planning methods in order to increase the prevalence rate to 60% by the year 2020;

3.         Protection of adolescents against early and unwanted pregnancies by strengthening and expanding education among girls and by introducing population issues in formal and semi-formal teaching;

4.         Reduction of maternity rates among girls under 20 years old and among women over 35 years old by improving access to family planning;

5.         Improvement and development of traditional family planning methods and expansion of their use;

6.         Encouraging the practice of breast feeding;

7.         Heightening public awareness about the benefits of responsible parenting for achieving the social and material welfare of individuals, couples, the community, and the nation;

8.         Organization of information, education, and communication campaigns on issues concerning reproduction and the disadvantages of early child birth, inadequate spacing of births, and late child birth;

9.         Continuation of the government and private-sector program on the spacing of births, as integrated in maternal-child health services and the community;

10.       Heightening the awareness of men about the benefits of family planning;

11.       Improvement of the training and retraining of socio-health personnel in family planning techniques so as to facilitate the implementation, surveillance, and evaluation of the program;

12.       Provision of appropriate support to the public, private, and non-governmental institutions that carry out family planning activities;

13.  Maintenance of the prohibition on abortion as a means of regulating births, but allowing abortions for major reasons, such as there involving the health of the mother and the child that she is carrying.





            The high level of morbidity resulting from adverse health conditions prevents a significant part of the Malian population from participating effectively in the development process.  According to hospital statistics, the main causes of morbidity are: malaria, skin infections, conjunctivitis, cough, amebiasis, diarrhea, and complications arising from pregnancy and child birth.


            But the major causes of death are fevers with convulsions, coughs lasting fewer than fifteen days, asymptomatic fevers, diarrhea with dehydration, tetanus, and complications arising from pregnancy and child birth.


            The reduction of morbidity and mortality rates thus becomes necessary for the development of the country.


            In order to achieve this objective, the strategy to be developed is based on the following principles:


1.         Improvement of health coverage nation-wide from the present level of 15-20% to more than 80% by the year 2020;

2.         Fighting against traditional practices that have an adverse effect on the health of girls, such as excision;

3.         Effective implementation in the area of hygiene of legal provisions affecting the open-air sale of food and the disposal of trash and toxic wastes, etc.;

4.         Development of public health programs such as those creating refuse dumps for the draining of waste water and household trash and constructing public toilets in towns and villages;

5.         Improvement and development of maternal-child health programs;

6.         Improvement and development of information and consciousness-raising campaigns for the extension of the enlarged vaccination program (DEV), in order to reach by the year 2,000 a vaccination coverage of 100% of the vulnerable population, which is made up of children and women of reproductive age;

7.         Generalization of the oral rehydration treatment technique (TRO), in cases of diarrhea among children and youth;

8.         Strengthening the system to protect the elderly and extending it progressively to the entire population;

9.         Fighting against AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases;

10.       Development and improvement of drilling and water treatment programs to ensure that drinking water is available to the population;

11.       Development and improvement of traditional medicine and its integration in all areas of health care;

12.       Continuing provision of basic medicines;

13.       Heightening the awareness of employers and workers about strict observance of legal provisions governing hygiene and safety in the workplace;

14.       Fighting against the major endemic diseases;

15.       Community participation in the management of health programs.





            The imbalance in the geographical distribution of the population caused by ecological and climatic conditions, to which can be added problems caused by migration, urbanization and territorial development, is characterized by a concentration of the majority of the Malian population in a small part of the national territory: 11% of the country is occupied by more than 65% of the population.  Such imbalance has created problems such as:


-           environmental deterioration;

-           deterioration of living conditions in areas of high population density--characterized, for example, by underemployment and unemployment; juvenile delinquency; and over-burdened social services (health, education, transportation, etc.), especially in urban areas.


            Correcting this imbalance in the geographical distribution of the population will allow the harmonious development of the country.     


            The strategies envisaged in this area consist of the following elements:


1.         Preparation and implementation of an operational national policy of territorial development;

2.         Strengthening development policy at the grass-roots level and improvement of the living conditions of rural dwellers;

3.         Promotion of medium-sized towns through a policy of decentralization and deconcentration of socio-economic activities;

4.         Preparation and implementation of a training and information program for migrants;

5.         Rehabilitation on a short- and medium-term basis of the routes normally taken by nomads and, at the same time, preparation and implementation, on a long-term basis, of a program to settle nomads; and  

6.         Preparation and implementation of a program of development of the areas from which migrants leave the country.






            The magnitude of migration out of the country deprives the country of the human resources that it needs for its development.


            Despite the financial contribution of migrants to the economy of Mali, it is imperative that the government adopt measures to make migrants aware of the advantages and disadvantages of international migration, given that the international community is becoming increasingly hostile to emigrants.


            Taking into account the impact of international migration on the development process will:


-           facilitate a well-advised use of the revenues of migrants in the development of the country;

-           foster the development of the country in order to reduce migration out of the country;

-           reduce brain drain;

-           facilitate the insertion of returning migrants in economic life.


            In light of the foregoing, the strategy with respect to international migration of Malians will consist of the following elements:


1.         Organization of a census of Malians residing abroad and preparation of specific studies on migration;

2.         Preparation and implementation of a program to assist migrants through:


-           health protection;

-           education on nutrition;

-           development and management of the family economy

-           information on the laws and pe fund for emigrants;

6.         Strengthening mechanisms to facilitate the transfer of funds of emigrants to the country and to enable them to increase their participation in the development of the country;

7.         Raising the awareness of the emigrant population so that they will be guided by the fundamental development objectives of the country;

8.         Strengthening institutions responsible for managing problems relating to migration.




            Significant efforts have been made by both the state and the former National Union of Malian Women to bring about and accelerate the integration of women in development.  But socio-cultural problems such as early marriages, illiteracy, the influence of traditions, and multiple pregnancies and pregnancies at close intervals, etc. have hampered this integration.


            Despite the progress achieved, much remains to be done in order to ensure the true integration of the women of Mali in development.


            Achieving this objective will enable women to:


-           participate fully in the economic development of the country and, especially, in the decision-making process;

-           generate their own resources to satisfy their needs;

-           meet the needs of their families in cases of necessity;  and

-           participate in the decision-making process in the household with respect to reproduction and the education of children.


            In order to achieve this objective, the strategy envisaged within the framework of the national population policy will unfold at several levels:  THE ECONOMIC PLAN


1.         Multiplication of the number of professional training centers where women can learn a trade;

2.         Organization of women into multifunctioning cooperatives, where they will be responsible for their own development;

3.         Freeing women from the requirement that they obtain authorization from their husbands in order to engage in a business profession by repealing Article 38 of the Marriage Code in cases in which a couple lives under a regime of separation of property-- which is the rule in Mali;

4.         Promotion of access to credit for women;

5.         Introduction of new technologies adapted to rural areas, in order to lighten the domestic and agricultural tasks of women;

6.         Inclusion of women in the formulation and orientation of projects designed for them;

7.         Support for the training of women's groups responsible for managing economic units.  THE SOCIO-CULTURAL PLAN


8.         Increasing measures to make parents aware of the need for mass education of their daughters so that these daughters are better able to carry out their roles as spouses, mothers, and agents of development;

9.         Treating functional literacy as the basis for all programs promoting women;

10.       Undertaking activities to raise awareness of the need for increased use of family planning;

11.       Expanding and improving day nurseries, kindergartens, and social welfare centers to enable mothers to participate more fully in productive activities.




            Children and youth under the age of 20 account for 55% of the Malian population.  Economic and climatic conditions in Mali make them the major victims of the economic crisis that the country is experiencing:


-           Infant and juvenile mortality rates that are still high.  Children under the age of 5 account for about 58% of deaths of both sexes;

-           Low levels of school attendance and high drop-out rates in primary schools;

-           Juvenile delinquency and its attendant consequences: debauchery, prostitution etc.


            The importance of this level of society and the role that it will eventually have to play in the development of the country require that the aspirations of Malian youth be taken into account within the framework of this population policy.


            The strategy envisaged within this framework consists of the following elements:


1.         Formulation of laws to protect children from all forms of exploitation;

2.         Implementation of the resolutions adopted at the World Summit on Children;

3.         Improvement of youth training programs in order to reduce school drop-out rates;

4.         Organization of continuing training courses for youth who have abandoned education, in order to strengthen their integration in society;

5.         Creation of youth activities in socio-economic development programs that lend themselves to this issue;

6.         Improvement and development of education in areas relating to population issues and to the family life of youth.




            The condition of human resources in Mali is characterised by the following:  on the level of education, by a low rate of schooling; and on the level of employment, by structural underemployment in the countryside and the development of unemployment in the urban areas.  EDUCATION AND TRAINING


            Schools in Mali have diversified their training of youth since the country attained independence in 1960.   The total number of pupils has increased between 1969 and 1989 as follows:


-           Primary Education: 363,615 pupils in 1989 compared with 185,639 pupils in 1969;

-           General Secondary Education:  9,401 pupils in 1989 compared with 2,823 in 1969;

-           Technical and Professional Education: 7,621 pupils in 1989 compared with 3,319 in 1974;

-           Higher Education: 4,569 students in 1989 compared with 628 in 1969.


            The rate of education for the entire country, which was 9% in 1960, has risen to about 30% in 1987, with very marked differences from the point of view of regions.  Notwithstanding this development, the level of education of children of school age remains quite low with respect to the efforts undertaken and to levels in other countries in the West African sub-region.


            The strategy planned to improve educational and training levels consists of the following elements:


1.         development of formalized basic education in order to increase the schooling of children of school age to 50% by the year 2000, and to 90% by the year 2020;

2.         development and improvement of adult literacy in order to facilitate the transfer of technology for development purposes;

3.         development of specialized professional and technical training;

4.         restructuring of general secondary and higher education in order to facilitate the integration of graduates in the active labor force.  LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT


            Following the end of the systematic recruitment of young graduates into the civil service and the implementation of a policy of restructuring public enterprises, Mali has a higher and higher number of graduates looking for their first jobs and workers who have been laid off.


            The measures adopted to date have had only a limited impact and have not yet provided a lasting solution to the problem of unemployment in the country.  While pursuing its current efforts, particularly with respect to those who have been "displaced," laid-off workers, and returning migrants, the government will develop a new strategy to enable youth to participate fully in the economic expansion of the country.


            The strategy envisaged in the area of employment and labor in the country is organized around the following elements:


1.         strengthening the relationship between the countryside and the towns in order to sustain the economic expansion of the rural sector;

2.         development of a commercial network with foreign markets based on mining products, fruits, vegetables, gum arabic, industrial goods, and handicrafts;

3.         exploitation of the potential of the country for tourism;

4.         development of on-the-job training programs;

5.         revision of the Labor Code in order to facilitate the access to employment of those seeking employment;

6.         promotion and protection of the informal sector;

7.         promotion of labor-intensive investment at the national and regional levels.




            The favorable levels of rainfall during the 1988 and 1989 agricultural seasons enabled the country not only to meet its needs in grains (which account for 70% of food requirements), but also to produce a surplus for export.


            The proposed strategy consists of the following elements:


1.         Acceleration of the implementation of the food strategy adopted by the government in 1985;

2.         Development and improvement of the exploitation of the irrigation capacity provided by the hydro-agricultural dams at Markala, Selingue, and Manantali, in order to shield the country from climatic variations, and acceleration of the effective implementation of the Tossaye dam project;

3.         Strengthening the transfer of technology to rural areas in order to facilitate the fight against deforestation linked to itinerant slash and burn farming;

4.         Development of agronomic research.




            With respect to the environment, there exists a close relationship between the level of the population and the state of environmental damage or depletion of renewable natural resources (forests, water, soil etc.).


            The strategy envisaged in this area is organized around the following elements:


1.         continued implementation of the national plan to combat desertification and deforestation;

2.         formulation of a long-term energy plan that takes into account the dynamics of the population.




            Mali has carried out two general population censuses and several socio-economic demographic surveys.


            Despite carrying out these inquiries, the country continues to suffer from a lack of reliable demographic data because certain variables have been either inadequately investigated or simply ignored.  In addition, certain data are insufficient for planning needs.


            This situation is attributable to several factors, the most significant of which include:


-           the gap that sometimes exists between the needs of planners and the concerns of those who generate data;

-           the delay--at times considerable--between the collection of information and the publication of results;

-           lastly, the still embryonic state of the Civil Status Registry, despite the progress made in recent years in the registration of births, deaths, and marriages.


            In order better to understand the socio-demographic behavior of the Malian population, measures must be taken, on the one hand, to provide the country with necessary technical skills through a policy of training demographers and social science professionals and, on the other, to establish a permanent system for data collection and processing.


            Emphasis must be placed on the following elements:


1.         Carrying out periodic inquiries on mortality, fertility and migration in order better to understand the movements of population in Mali;

2.         Organization for Malian officials of training and retraining programs in demography and, particularly, in the relationship between demography and social sciences;

3.         Development of the Civil Status Registry;

4.         Carrying out a periodic general population census (every ten years);

5.         Improvement of the collection and use of statistics relating to health, education, employment, etc., in order to facilitate the consideration of such data in the formulation of development plans and programs.




            The objectives and strategies proposed at the national level within the framework of the national population policy are also valid at the regional level where their impact is undeniable.  Nonetheless, the specific demographic-economic problems in each administrative region are such that it becomes necessary--even indispensable--to focus on certain activities already proposed and to supplement them with others at the level of various demographic-economic groups.


            While the problems of international migration and its effects on the socio-economic conditions of women have received attention in the Kayes region, the two northern regions (Gao and Timbuktu) are more concerned about the expansion of the desert and the nomadic life of their population.  As for the Sikasso region, despite its economic potential, it has to deal on a periodic basis with the reception and settlement of migrants coming from Gao, Timbuktu and Mopti.


            A regional approach to the population problems of Mali thus becomes necessary in the formulation and implementation of programs instituted on the basis of this population policy.




            The implementation and success of a population policy in a country where approximately 80% of the inhabitants are illiterate depends in large part on raising public awareness.




            In the case of Mali, a careful use of the social and cultural potential of the country would facilitate activities to raise public awareness.  The strategy of public awareness to be adopted will be based on information, education, and communication (IEC) relating to population issues.  It will take into account socio-cultural constraints such as habits, customs, and the power exerted by the Islamization of society, and will be integrated in every sector of the national population policy and directed, as a matter of priority, towards various targeted population groups, which are:


1.         Political and administrative decision-makers;

2.         Leaders of opinion (noteworthy persons and religious leaders);

3.         Women of child-bearing age (15-49 years);

4.         Youth; and

5.         Partners in development.




1.         Participatory organizations;

2.         Media;

3.         Political organizations;

4.         Leaders of opinion;

5.         Artists and soothsayers ("griots"); and

6.         The formal and informal educational systems.




-           Campaign organizers

-           Community Development Workers

-           Workers in the National Directorate of Functional Literacy and Applied Linguistics (NDFLA)

-           Workers in the National Directorate of Cooperatives (NDC)




            Videocassettes, sound messages, films, etc.




            The public awareness program will vary depending on the target groups and on the demographic-economic problems identified in the different administrative regions.  It will thus include a national component, which is integrated in the global strategy for development of the country, and a regional component, which will be implemented within the framework of the programs of each region.


            Public awareness activities will take the form of conference-debates, seminar-workshops and meetings, artistic and cultural presentations, sound messages, etc. 








-           The Regional Committee for Development

-           National Planning Commissions, in particular, the National Commission of Human Resources and Population

-           The Managing Board for the Plan

-           The Economic and Social Council

-           The Higher Council for the Plan




a)         Sectoral implementation bodies, which are responsible for carrying out specific tasks in order to attain set objectives in their respective areas;

b)         Regional implementation bodies, the main task of which is the implementation of population programs at the local level;

c)         The private sector, non-governmental organizations, and the other partners in development of Mali, which, in conjunction with the Government, will contribute towards the implementation of the national population policy.




            With respect to programming and coordination, the Ministry of Planning, as part of its responsibilities, will ensure that all of the components of the national population policy are incorporated in national plans and development programs.


            The implementation, follow-up and coordination of the population policy will be ensured by the Group for Studies and Coordination of Population Activities (GSCPA), which will be transformed into the National Bureau for the Coordination of Population Programs (NBCPP).  This entity will also act as an advisory board with respect to planning for population-related activities and will have representatives in the various regions, municipalities, and districts of the country.




            As part of a global policy of development, this national population policy is a precious tool in the hands of decision-makers and planners for accelerating the process of harmonious development, while ensuring a balance of demographic, economic, and socio-cultural variables.