Mali is a landlocked country of 17 million people located in West Africa. It is a country in which poverty and disease are commonplace, and only 33 percent of people are literate. As with many of its West African neighbors, Mali experiences frequent droughts and violence and Malians rely heavily on humanitarian efforts. In 2016, humanitarian aid to Mali totaled $354 million. Largely in response to the conflict in the northern parts of the country, these funds were expected to influence 127 projects and reach more than one million Malians.
The Bamako Agreement
The 2016 Mali Humanitarian Response Plan followed a peace and reconciliation agreement the year prior, otherwise known as the Bamako Agreement. The Bamako Agreement was a response to the continued violence from a 2012 uprising of Tuareg-led rebels. It sought to bring peace between separatists and Mali loyalists and to provide better representation in government affairs.
However, due to limited funding, the Bamako Agreement did not immediately live up to its potential. One of the most negatively affected areas was Mali’s healthcare sector. Mali is a country in which only 24 percent of citizens have access to improved sanitation and 6,000 died from HIV/AIDS in 2016. As a result, access to proper healthcare is a major concern. Underfunding following the Bamako Agreement was reflected by health concerns such as increased infant mortality and the spread of disease.
Not willing to accept a failed Bamako Agreement, the 2016 allocation of funds sought to improve humanitarian aid to Mali. This was done by allocating funds appropriately to the most urgent needs such as health, water and nutrition. It also created a more coordinated success strategy between humanitarian groups.
Humanitarian Aid to Mali: Moving Forward
While the situation in Mali remains perilous, there are encouraging signs of a turnaround. The country is stabilized compared to the time before the Bamako Agreement. The $354 million dispersed in a scrupulous manner will have lasting benefits for the people of Mali.
By further coordinating humanitarian aid to Mali, organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) have the resources to make a difference. The WHO is seeking additional funds from the U.S. to improve health information systems, increase access to health clinics and create better responses to calamities. The need is clear and the U.S. should increase aid efforts to better an improving, but still volatile, situation in Mali.
– Eric Paulsen