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.

Objectives, results and activities

LoCAL-Mali aims to demonstrate and highlight the role of commune authorities in promoting local climate change adaptation/resilience measures by integrating climate funding in budget transfer mechanisms and in the planning/allocation of local resources. More specifically, it aims to:

  • strengthen technical and institutional capacities in the pilot communes to ensure better local governance of adaptation to climate change;
  • enable communes to create infrastructure and local services that are resilient to climate change through targeted funding;
  • promote increased awareness among commune councillors and local communities about the impact of climate change phenomena and the relevance of a local approach to adaptation/resilience.

The LoCAL-Mali initiative is being implemented in line with the national implementation method, with the Environment and Sustainable Development Agency (AEDD) serving as the national institution responsible for administering the LoCAL programme in partnership with ANICT and UNCDF.


  • Two communes in the Nioro du Sahel circle have been selected for the first pilot phase of LoCAL-Mali: Sandaré and Simby.
  • The performance-based climate resilience grant (PBCRG) mechanism has been developed and includes minimum conditions for access, performance criteria and an indicative investments list to inform the process of integrating adaptation into local planning and budgeting.
  • The Memorandum of Understanding to put grants into practice was signed in June 2014 between UNCDF and the Government of Mali, and between AEDD and the Simby and Sandaré town councils.
  • A LoCAL-Mali Technical Committee has been established under the authority of the Ministry of the Environment, Sanitation and Sustainable Development (MEADD). This committee is chaired by the AEDD, which also houses its secretariat. The multisectoral, multi-stakeholder committee is composed of representatives from key technical organizations involved in the environment, climate change, agriculture, livestock rearing, fisheries, rural engineering, the economy and finances, and planning, among others.
  • Evaluation of the communes’ first-year performance was undertaken in June 2016 and lessons are being incorporated to improve the mechanism.

Adaptation measures and investments

The first adaptation measures and investments were implemented at the end of 2015, following the first cycle of planning and budgeting for LoCAL PBCRGs. In the Simby commune, this has financed a 2-hectare market gardening plot for women’s groups, complete with supplementary pools, hedges and wire fencing. In the Sandaré commune, the investment has been used to install a solar-based well water pump in a 2.5-hectare market gardening plot of a women’s group. This garden will also be surrounded by wire fencing and hedges.

Lessons learned

  • The LoCAL mechanism provides sufficient flexibility for alignment with national and local priorities. Climate change in Mali has a direct impact on key sectors, including agriculture and livestock farming; it thereby increases food insecurity, malnutrition and poverty. LoCAL-Mali has been designed to strengthen the response to climate change in local development planning.
  • The combination of LoCAL grants with budget allocations dedicated to local authority investment in the context of adequate management procedures for public finances has demonstrated the importance of using existing national systems rather than establishing parallel arrangements. The amount of the LoCAL grant in Mali is determined by reference, as a proportion of the amount allocated through the National Support for Local Authorities Investment Fund (FNACT-DIC).
  • LoCAL offers the international community a proven mechanism for effectively and transparently channelling climate change funds to the most remote and vulnerable populations and regions while ensuring traceability, performance monitoring and results sharing. As a temporary measure in gaining experience, a direct funding channel has been established from the Treasury to the communes; in Phase II, the channel will be used to direct funding from the Local Authorities National Investment Agency (ANICT).

Way forward

  • The two pilot communes are preparing for their second annual round of planning and budgeting. The communes and communities will identify and select adaptation investments to be financed under the second cycle of LoCAL’s work (2016–2017).
  • The two pilot communes will receive support for climate risk, vulnerability and adaptation analyses to ensure that these issues are effectively taken into account in local planning and in the resulting investments.
  • Following two joint workshops held in March 2015 in each of the pilot communes, capacity-building synergies with the UNDP-UNEP Poverty-Environment Initiative (PEI) will be increased. The technical teams are producing a joint action plan to this end.
  • LoCAL-Mali is exploring partnerships to strengthen Phase I and prepare for Phase II, which aims to provide support to more communes across the country.


Government of Mali

  • Mr. Brehima Camara
    Director General, Environment and Sustainable Development Agency (AEDD)
  • Mr. Sekou Kone
    Section Head, Partnerships and Financial Resource Mobilization, AEDD,



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Facts and Figures

179 M



Number of Communes


Phase I budget (2015-2017)


Phase II budget (2018-onwards)

Stories from the Field


Bamako, Mali

Ms. Safiatou Diarra Cissé
LoCAL National Technical Coordinator

Mr. Ibrahima Coulibaly
National UNV, Programme support assistant

Ms. Sophie De Coninck
LoCAL Programme Manager (Africa)