Mali at a glance
A land-locked country in West Africa, the Republic of Mali is home to 17 million people, more than half of whom are children. In the years before conflict broke out in the North, Mali was making strong development strides. The under-five mortality rate fell by 42 per cent over the 2000-2012 period and birth registration increased significantly, from 53 per cent in 2006 to 81 per cent in 2010. In 2012, Mali surpassed the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target for access to improved sources of water, with more than 65 per cent coverage.
In recent years, however, chronic challenges and devastating crises have stalled this momentum. Today, Mali is ranked 182 out of 187 countries on the Human Development Index, and half of the population lives in poverty. Poverty is concentrated in disadvantaged regions and rural areas: half of all children living in poverty reside in the regions of Mopti and Sikasso. In the northern regions of Gao, Tombouctou and Kidal, the deprivation is even greater. Gross domestic product (GDP) growth, estimated at 5 per cent in 2013, is below the 7 per cent target for reducing poverty, while population growth is among the highest in the world at 3.6 per cent.
With low GDP growth and limited investments in health, nutrition, education, water and protection, children in Mali continue to face significant threats to their wellbeing. Almost no decline has been observed in neonatal mortality and maternal mortality in recent years. The prevalence of stunting (low height for age) among children under 5 is more than 28 per cent and has changed little over the years. More than 1 million children are out of school and more than half of all girls are married before the age of 18. Only one person in five has access to improved sanitation. On-going instability and violence in the North continue to endanger the lives of thousands of children.