Climate change threatens livelihood in Mali

Mali is 175th out of 187 in the current UN Development Index. Farmers comprise 80% of the country’s population and the country is highly exposed to climate change.

It is expected that Mali’s population will grow geometrically in the next 20 years. Climate change is therefore likely to be a major threat to food security in Mali, particularly due to the preponderance of farming as occupation for 15 million of its citizens. The much-heralded global tension over energy, water and food by the year 2030 may see vulnerable countries like Mali in grave danger of food security.

As the rivers shrink, fertile parcels of land turn desert and insect infestations become more rampant, thousands are likely to be pushed out of their communities to urban centres and this may lead to unmanageable urbanisation.

Natural resource conflicts, as being witnessed by the action of the Tuaregs, who are nomadic herders that are now adversely affected by climate change, might be heightened.

Information on climatic change scenarios from the Enhancing Adaptive Capacity and Resilience to Climate Change in the Agriculture Sector in Mali shows that the country is enormously affected.

The country is characterised by inadequate rainfall; greater flooding; and violent winds. Oxfam has warned that Mali drought is capable to be the same to that of Horn of Africa and the Middle East, the Scientific assessments conducted with the framework of the Initial National Communication (INC) and the National Adaptation Program of Action (NAPA) revealed that climate change will contribute greatly to losses in crop production in Mali which will have direct effect on food security of the country.

Mr David Sagara, Mali’s Minister of Environment and Sanitation, in an event organised to discuss climate change in the country said climate change is a great threat to the country’s socioeconomic and cultural development and is a major impediment to the country’s poverty reduction.

Interventions to checkmate climate change are on in Mali. It is these that led to the establishment of National Climate Change Committee in March 2011, to put in place National Action Plan on Climate Change Policy and Strategic Document. This has been incorporated into the 2012-2017 Mali Strategic Agenda for Growth and Poverty Reduction.

In another development, more than twenty staff of the National Directorate for Water and Forests have been trained on the efficient utilisation of geographical information systems (GIS) and GPS-assisted on combating climate change.

In the same vein, six afforestation/reforestation projects in the Kayes, Ségou and Mopti regions have received support on climate change.

Also, a community-based forest management for climate change adaptation in the Djenne district has received €322,000 to implement projects regarding climate change.

There are also €642,000 support for forest cover enhancement in the Bafoulabé and Kénieba districts, €600,000 support for community project for land cover restoration and carbon sequestration along the Niger River in the Ségou region, €647,000 for improvement of the gum Arabic value chain in the Kayes region, €519 000 sum for encouraging local idea for natural resource safeguard.

At the moment, there is Integrating Climate Resilience into the Agricultural Sector for Food Security in Rural Areas of Mali has got 2,181,820 USD grant. This is to equip rural farmers on climate change, this will help put in place Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) strategies and mechanisms.

This they do in two ways, one intensification of rural level capability to discover and test novel technologies and management techniques via the already growing network of Farmers, two integrating climate change into the agricultural sector arrangement both at the national and provincial levels. It is expected that about 510,000 farmers will be aware of the dangers of climate change and will put in place adaptive management response techniques.

Exact prediction to future is not always certain, however, looking at the current situation in Mali, the trends of climate change and its impact there is the possibility that in years to come, climate change may likely distort Mali’s chance of development.

This is to the fact that its impacts such as regular and powerful droughts or floods have the likelihood to weaken the country’s institutions. The country is likely to be confronted by self-reinforcing vicious cycle of famines, epidemics and conflicts. However, the cholera outbreak, resurfaced food crises and security tensions witnessing in the north of Mali are all sufficing signs.

Audu Liberty Oseni

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