Life in Mali

Mali Village Life

As with so many countries across Africa, independence from France in 1960 did not bring the long awaited freedom and chance for self fulfilment, but coups, rebellions and decades of military dictatorships until the 'soldier of democracy', Amadou Toumani Toure, overthrew military chief Moussa Traore and installed a transitional committee which held elections seeing Alpha Konare installed as Mali's first democratically elected president in 1992. This election ushered in a period of relative political stability for a number of years, however the economy and infrastructure of the country had been badly mismanaged for decades so, although the country opened up to outside trade and investment, life in Mali only slowly began to change for the better with many of its natural resources underexploited. That progress has again recently stalled.

With a population of 20.25 million (2020), life expectancy in Mali is 59.31 years (2019) and there are 58.923 deaths for every 1000 births which the World Health Organisation in 2019 mainly attributed to unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene. Under 50% of the population is illiterate (overall 35.47%. Male literacy is 46.18%, female literacy is 25.74%) against a backdrop of Mali being one of the poorest countries in the world ranked in 184th place out of 189 countries and territories in 2019 in terms of life expectancy, literacy, access to knowledge and the living standards of a country. Despite this, Mali is working closely with international organisations and its economy is now growing although 80% of its population rely on subsistence farming and fishing in a country where 65% of the land is either desert or semi-desert.

Living in Mali

Life in Mali remains tough particularly for its children made worse since 2020 amid ongoing abuses by armed Islamist groups, ethnic militias, and government security forces which saw the recent toppling of the government in a military coup with ethnic self-defence groups, formed to protect villages from attacks, killing hundreds, leading to widespread displacement and hunger. Even before these troubles, school and education was not available for all children, Mali had thousands of youngsters living on the streets, and there are some 94,000 children orphaned through AIDS alone. In rural areas, where over 80% of the country's population live, the electrification rate is just 15% and, while 80% of Mali's population now has access to improved sources of drinking water, this number drops to 70% in rural areas making treks to water wells part of a daily routine of struggle. 'A ye wuli! A ye wuli!' is the first thing families in Mali villages will hear at the dawn of a new day then, after a few domestic tasks, it's time for morning prayers in this mainly Muslim country.

Life in Mali

After the water has been carried back to a home made from mud bricks with a thatched grass roof (or a log roof filled with mud), the preparation of breakfast on an outside stove fuelled by firewood starts in a compound shared with the family's animals including goats, sheep and chickens. Then the village children who actually attend will set off for school, often many miles away in more rural areas and the man of the house will go off to work on the land whilst the mother carries out household chores or makes things that can be sold at market. Many children, nearly half, also stay away from school to help with these chores which doesn't help Mali's already poor literacy levels. Dinner then consists of rice, normally with some sauce, or porridge made from flour and water. Another trip to the well for water and the evening is closed with supper. Then it's sleep until the next cry of 'A ye wuli! A ye wuli!' ~ everyone wake up! The video (below) provide insights into life in Mali for its children and adult population while the following two article explores life for childrne in Mali in more detail.

Life in Mali: Volunteer in Mali

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Life in Mali: Mali Children

Mali Children

Find out more about children's lives in Mali in pictures and video together with facts and figures.

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Life in Mali: Street Children in Mali

Mali Street Children

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Life in Mali: Child Sponsor Mali

Child Sponsor Mali

Details of how to sponsor children in Mali with Mali child sponsor organisations, charities, programs and projects.

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Life in Mali: Mali Country Profile

African Country Profiles: Mali

In another of our African country profiles, find out all about Mali in a series of information articles, latest daily news, videos, and images together with volunteering and child sponsorship opportunities.

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