Assignment 2 November 7, 2014
Mali’s Developmental Struggles
Mali is a nation located in West Africa that experiences many developmental challenges. Extreme poverty, health issues and a corrupt government all contribute to the lack of development in Mali. Although the country has a lot of natural resources, these resources have never been exploited and Mali continues to have a poor economy and a trade deficit. Organizations like the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations and the World Bank have tried to reduce the extreme poverty in Mali, but corruption in the nation is a serious obstacle for these agencies. Mali remains one of the most underdeveloped countries in the world.
Mali is moderately large for an African Nation, stretching over 1.2 million square feet. The climate is variable between different seasons: hot and dry from February to June, rainy and humid from June to November, and cool and dry from November to February. The majority of the country is covered by sand and desert, especially in the south. However, the northeast portion of the country is covered with many rugged hills.1 There are two main vegetation zones in Mali. The Sudanic zone in the south is covered with forest corridors. There are many thorny plants such as mimosa and acadia in this area. The Sahel zone in the north is barren savanna. There are very few trees in the north, but the trees that do exist there are drought resistant species, such as baobab and palmyra. The animal life in Mali is very diverse. It contains giraffes, elephants, lions, hyenas and ostriches, while crocodiles and hippopotamuses inhabit the rivers.2 The first settlers of Mali were Muslim traders who arrived around 800 AD. They traded goods such as gold, ivory and slaves to North Africa and lived a nomadic lifestyle. Even today, city life is not common in Mali. Nearly 75% of Mali’s population is rural, typically living in thatched dwellings grouped together in villages of 150 to 600 inhabitants.3 For a long period of time, Mali experienced invasion from various groups and countries. Mali was ruled under the Manlinke Empire from the 12th to 16th century, along with its neighbor countries Liberia and New Guinea. By the 15th century the Songhai Empire controlled Mali’s major trading centers, Timbuktu and Djenne. In 1855, France conquered Mali and Mali became known as French Sudan, a French Union territory. Mali’s struggle for independence did not come to a close until 1960, when it finally gained independence and became known as the Republic of Mali.4 Mali’s population is increasing at an alarming rate. The population is currently around 16 million and the growth rate is 3%. A growth rate this high is characteristic of a developing country because birth rates are still very high, but death rates are decreasing as improvements in health care and sanitation take place.5 Increasing birth rates and decreasing death rates puts Mali in the second demographic transition stage, resulting in a major increase in population. According to Population Institute, Mali’s population is projected to almost triple by 2050.6 Mali relies very little on migration; in fact more people emigrate from Mali than immigrate. Only 1.3% of Mali’s population is immigrants. Of the 16 million people in Mali, 48% are children under the age of 15. This is because the birth rates are very high and the life expectancy is relatively low. Child labour is an issue in Mali because the population has so many children. Currently, 36% of the labour force is young children.5 French is the official language of Mali, left over from French colonization, but over 30 local African languages are used across the country.7 Mali’s population has one of the worst literacy rates in the world; only 26% of people over the age of 15 can read8. HIV and AIDS is much less of a problem in Mali than it is in other African countries. The prevalence of HIV and AIDS is 1% of the