Decentralization in Mali was implemented with the creation and establishment of local authorities and their governance bodies at three levels – region, circle and commune. One of Mali’s main challenges over the next few years will be to accelerate the process of giving these local authorities greater independence through an effective transfer of powers; financial and human resources; and continued capacity-building for planning, implementation and monitoring and evaluation of development actions at the local level.
The Local Authorities Code tasks commune authorities with developing their own social, economic and cultural development programme – that is, planning and scheduling development actions within their area. Despite their autonomy in local development planning, most local authorities are not aware of the leadership role they can play in tackling climate change.
Mali, like other countries in West Africa, has been hit hard by the effects of climate change; addressing these effects is a key component of UNCDF’s commitment in the country. Climate change in Mali is evidenced by, among other effects, (i) an average reduction in annual rainfall of 20%, combined with limited geographic and temporal distribution when it does occur; (ii) increasingly high temperatures; (iii) more frequent periods of drought and flooding; (iv) decreased water levels in the major rivers; (v) marked deterioration in soil quality; and (vi) greater ecosystem fragility. Projected climate scenarios indicate that by 2100, the average temperature in Mail could increase by about 0.2°C per decade and that rainfall could decrease by 10%. A predominantly arid country, less than a quarter of Mali’s land is suitable for cultivation. Land degradation, and the dependence of the country’s farms on rainfall, make Mali extremely vulnerable to random climatic events.
The main objectives of Mali’s 2011 National Climate Change Policy are to facilitate better integration of climate challenges in planning processes at the national and local levels; and to build the population’s capacity to increase the resilience of ecological, economic and social systems to the effects of climate change by incorporating adaptation measures – primarily in the most vulnerable sectors.