THE REPuBLIc OF Mali is located in western Africa, covering 478,767 sq. mi. (1,240,000 sq. km.), equivalent to an area twice the size of Texas. Mali has a population of 12,291,529 people (2005 est.) with about 80 percent of the labor force engaged in agricultural production and processing. Mali is among the poorest countries in the world, with a per capita gross domestic product of $900 (2004 est.). 64 percent of the population lives in poverty. Significant agricultural products include cotton, cereal crops, vegetables, peanuts, and livestock. Three geographic and meteorological zones characterize Mali: Saharan (desert/arid), Sahelian (shrub savanna/subtropical); and Sudanese (wooded savanna/tropical). Likewise, there are three distinct seasons: hot and dry (March to May); rainy (June to October); and cool and dry (November to February). Temperatures in Mali can drop as low as 41 degrees F (5 degrees C) at night in January and then reach 104-113 degrees F (40-45 degrees C) during the day from April to June.
Five environmental issues facing the country are deforestation, soil erosion, desertification, inadequate supplies of drinking water, and the poaching of wildlife. Mali is a party to the following International Environmental Agreements: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, and Wetlands. Given that Mali is periodically prone to droughts, the general population does have some sense of climate change awareness, as older generations have witnessed significant changes within their lifetimes. The development priorities of the Malian government also include addressing climate change.
The contributions that Mali makes to human-induced climate change are minimal compared to the rest of sub-Saharan Africa and the world. For example, per capita carbon dioxide emissions in 1998 were only 100 metric tons, compared to an average of 800 tons for the sub-continent, and the global average of 4,100 metric tons. Likewise, sulfur dioxide emissions in 1995 totaled 14,000 metric tons (less than one-third of 1 percent of the entire total for sub-Saharan Africa), while nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide emissions (also in 1995) represented just 0.006 percent and 0.007 percent, respectively, of the total for all of sub-Saharan Africa.
Climate change could have significant consequences for the people, environment, and development of Mali. Climatic change, leading to a shorter rainy season and higher average temperatures, would lead to desertification of currently farmed areas in the central part of the country. Less rainfall would also impede the country's ability to produce hydroelectric-ity, which is already a problem during the dry season. Also, the intensification of rainfall could have serious effects on soil erosion. Finally, changes in rainfall patterns may also lead to changes in cropping patterns and, ultimately, changes in people's livelihoods, as both farmers and herders retreat toward the south in search of arable land and grazing areas.
sEE ALsO: Deforestation; Desertification; Drought.
bibliography. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), World Factbook (CIA, 2006); Economist Intelligence Unit, Mali (The Economist, 2006); J.F. McCoy, Geodata: The World Geographical Encyclopedia (Thomson-Gale, 2003); World Resources Institute, www.earthtrends.wri.org (cited November 2007).
Michael Joseph Simsik U.S. Peace Corps
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