Each year some 500 000 ha of land are lost through deforestation to meet Mali's energy requirements. ِAgriculture is increasing at a rate of 4.7 % per annum and is encroaching onto fragile land with thin top soils. It is estimated that 7-15% of arable land has become sterile through unsustainable agricultural practices and has been abandoned. More than 100 000 ha of forest are lost each year while bush fires destroy 14 million ha of the 35 million available for livestock grazing. Surface and underground water sources at serious risk due to waste, sedimentation, silting and pollution: silting of watercourses accounts for the loss of 30 000 billion cubic metres of water into the Inner Niger Delta each year, and for a decline in soil fertility.
Natural resource degradation poses a real threat in human terms: communities are becoming increasingly vulnerable because of land scarcity, insecure land tenure and inadequate technical know-how that would enable them to counterbalance increased agricultural output. Even in purely economic terms, land degradation has a major impact: an annual loss of around 6% of GDP is attributed to soil erosion and deforestation.
While successive governments and local stakeholders have had certain pockets of success from which lessons can be drawn and good practices replicated, these efforts are just a drop in the ocean given the scale of the problem. Besides, most efforts were undertaken through ad hoc projects that lacked a cross-cutting approach with limited resources (around 4% of the national budget).
The Government of Mali, with the support of its partners, has put sustainable land management (SLM) firmly on the political agenda and set itself the primary objective of formulating a Strategic Investment Framework for Sustainable Land Management (SIF-SLM).
A joint initiative involving the World Environment Fund/World Bank, UNDP, FAO, GTZ, and the Global Mechanism of the UNCCD is supporting the government in the formulation of the SIF by financing analytical studies and supporting the coordination of the SIF development process, following the programme model promoted by the TerrAfrica platform. For its part, Mali has established a Technical Team under the Permanent Technical Secretariat for the Institutional Framework for the Management of Environmental Issues to guide SLM activities on a programmatic basis.
First steps have included an assessment of the costs of land degradation and an institutional analysis to support the inter-ministerial coordination process. Interviews, studies, workshops and missions have culminated in the adoption of political institutional technical and financial matrices that have permitted the main bottlenecks and priority actions for upscaling SLM in Mali, to be identified. The outcomes of these studies will form the basis for the elaboration of the SIF-SLM that is expected to be validated by all stakeholders in mid-July 2010.
As part of its SLM efforts, Mali is delighted to announce the launch of a SLM information system to methodically collect data on SLM at the national level from the different national agro-ecological zones and to disseminate information to stakeholders. This system incorporates a monitoring and evaluation system that will facilitate the coordination and follow up of priority projects and activities identified under the SIF-SLM.
A dedicated website, designed to be a central tool for enhancing knowledge on SLM (www.gdtmali.org) will become operational in July 2010. It gives access to all these resources, plus information on the current status of SLM, the national SLM coalition and the SIF.
For more information:
Mr François Tapsoba, Regional Financial Advisor for Francophone Africa
f.tapsoba (at) global-mechanism.org