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 percent. 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.


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. 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 Environment and Sustainable Development Agency - AEDD, (Agence de l’Environnement et du Développement Durable), which serves as the national designated authority, is responsible for administering the LoCAL programme in partnership with the other members of the National Steering Committee, using the Local Authorities National Investment Agency -ANICT (Agence Nationale d’Investissement des Collectivités Territoriales) structure for funding the communes. This is done with technical support from UNCDF and under the general direction of the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralization.


  • A memorandum of understanding was signed in June 2014 between UNCDF and the Government of Mali, and between the AEDD and the Simby and Sandaré communes in the Nioro du Sahel district, as the grant beneficiaries. Those two communes in the Nioro du Sahel circle have been selected for the first pilot phase.
  • 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 mechanism is being implemented and aligned with national systems for local governance (budget allocations, decentralization) in both communes.
  • Oversight and monitoring mechanisms – including a UNCDF National Coordination Team, a LoCAL-Mali Technical Committee under the authority of the Ministry of the Environment, Sanitation and Sustainable Development, a Local Support and Orientation Committee established at the circle level and presided over by the circle’s prefect, and a Commune Committee for Technical Support and Orientation – have been established and are fully operational.
  • The first two PBCRG cycles have been completed and were successfully evaluated in 2016 and in 2017. The communes are now preparing for implementation of adaptation activities slated for the third year of the LoCAL mechanism with the grants selected in the first phase.
  • The Government of Mali has granted financing through the AEDD to LoCAL over 2016–2018 and has pledged further support over the next years. The design of Phase II was developed during 2016 and 2017 and has been peer reviewed and validated by the Government of Mali.
  • ANICT was nominated as the country’s national implementing entity and is pursuing efforts for accreditation to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), with a view to scaling up LoCAL. Following its nomination, LoCAL supported ANICT in organizing a national workshop in which 179 participants learned about international climate finance – specifically, how the GCF works and what kinds of interventions can be financed through it. Subsequently, LoCAL and ANICT made a joint submission to the Mali National Climate Fund to scale up LoCAL Phase II and gain the necessary experience to access GCF resources. LoCAL signed a letter of agreement with ANICT to provide technical and financial assistance to the Government of Mali (ANICT, AEDD) to support its GCF accreditation.

Adaptation measures and investments

  • Mali’s first adaptation measures and investments were implemented in 2015–2016, 2016– 2017, and 2017-2018, resulting in 36 local adaptation investments, at an estimated cost of CFA 183,703,500, directly benefiting more than 6,000 people, the majority of whom were women.
  • Interventions financed included 6.5- and 2.5-hectare market gardening plots for women’s groups, equipped with supplementary pools, hedges and wire fencing and solar panels to provide energy to an automated water pump. This garden plot project benefited over 200 people, mostly women. The grant was also used to build women’s capacities, with trainings in agricultural techniques, and procurement of agricultural inputs and seeds.
  • Following the first cycle of investments, Sandaré financed a fish farm project, complementing the garden plot effort, with two ponds and a well to ensure a steady supply of water to the ponds. The irrigation system is made of PVC piping, and the well is equipped with an automatic solar pump system. The integrated garden/fish farm project is maintained by the Jama Jigui women’s group comprising 53 members, of whom 50 are women.
  • Additional interventions included Neem wood forest rehabilitation in Simby and two irrigation systems and a solar-based well-water pump in Sandaré. All the stakeholders involved in the LoCAL mechanism – elected leaders, beneficiaries, officers of decentralized state services – have been sensitized and trained to better understand the issues and challenges related to climate change.
  • For its third year of operation (2017-2018), LoCAL allocated an estimated CFA 53,703,500 to the two target local authorities. These funds were used to finance construction of 1.5 hectares of vegetable gardens for the women’s cooperative in the village of Wassamangatéré and improvements of the Madina Malinké women’s vegetable garden. Market gardeners also benefited from capacity-building sessions in innovative and sustainable farming techniques on improved cooking stoves. They have been equipped with small farm inputs and improved and adapted seeds. A half-hectare village forestry project of Gum acacia was also implemented.

Lessons learned

  • The communes involved demonstrated strong civic engagement and a responsive attitude. All of the key stakeholders – including the mostly female beneficiaries – are actively engaged in project identification; project implementation is handled collaboratively with the commune councils which spearhead the local development efforts.
  • The majority of stakeholders and national policies are fully supportive and aligned with adaptation objectives and the need to build population resilience in climate-vulnerable areas. This synergy helped drive communication and build capacities; this in turn had a transformative effect on the strategic planning documents of both the supported communes and bordering communes. Nevertheless, the communes remain highly dependent on technical support and assistance from the state and service providers and – due to the low level of transfers from the central government to the decentralized administrations – on external funding.
  • Sustainability and prospects for scale-up rely on several factors including close follow-up and coordination between LoCAL and its national counterpart; technical and operational support provided by LoCAL at the regional and central levels; clear allocation of resources to the communes to address and implement climate adaptation activities, and allowing for modification; strong ownership by commune councils and beneficiaries; and positive synergy between the actors as a result of the immediate outcomes (economic/social) of the activities implemented.
  • Other positive developments include the strategic role played by the mechanism at the national level, reinforced by coordination and partnership building (government, development partners, civil society, others); a competitive spirit between the communes engaged in the LoCAL mechanism; a strengthened level of technical support provided by the decentralized state services and their related structures; improved capacities of local service providers and contractors; the emergence of new synergies between other actors, projects and programmes in the targeted areas and at national levels; political support from the government and alignment of the mechanism to ongoing reforms and the increasing level of transfer of capacities and resources from the central to the decentralized governments; and strengthening of audits and inspections of public funds.

Way forward

  • LoCAL is expected to increase the support provided to the two pilot communes from both national and international partners. This support will include technical assistance from the Treasury, and the Inspection and Controls Department of the Ministry of Interior, in collaboration with the Steering Committee and the AEDD; climate risk and vulnerability assessment via the establishment of local information and data collection systems; cost- benefit evaluations, self-assessments and annual performance assessments; and advocacy and visibility actions.
  • LoCAL will build on existing synergies with other local and national partners – including the United Nations Development Programme–UN Environment Poverty-Environment Initiative (PEI), The Netherlands, ENABEL, the World Bank, the Near East Foundation/International Institute for Environment and Development and GIZ – particularly in the areas of climate mainstreaming and capacity strengthening at the local level.
  • Following validation of the Phase II design by the Technical Committee, LoCAL-Mali seeks to scale up the mechanism to a larger number of communes, ultimately aiming for national scale- up.
  • The design of LoCAL-Mali Phase II has been approved by ANICT as part of the country’s decentralization efforts; the country is ready to move to Phase II.
  • Through the letter of agreement signed with ANICT, LoCAL will continue to provide technical and financial support to ANICT’s GCF accreditation for operationalization of Phases II and III.
  • Resource mobilization and synergy strategies will continue to support scaling-up objectives.
  • The LoCAL directives are aligned with the objectives and priorities of CREDD 2019–2023 (Strategic Axis 4) and UNDAF 2020-2024 (Axis 4, Effect 5).


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) - Email

Facts and Figures

179 M



Number of Communes




Total LoCAL support budget (2014–2018)

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)