Building Forward Better

Mali – About the country


The Sudano-Sahelian climate is characterized by very high average temperatures and by the alternation of a rainy season (June to September) with humid winds from the Gulf of Guinea and a dry season lasting between five and nine months (from October-November to May-June) characterized by dry winds from the Sahara. Average precipitation (280 mm/year) decreases from south to north.

Water resources

About 47 percent of Mali's total land area is in the Niger River watershed and 11 percent in the Senegal River watershed; 41 percent of the country's land area is part of the interior basin of the Sahara Desert, and only 1 percent is in the Volta River watershed.

Renewable groundwater resources are estimated at 20 km3/year. The common part between surface water and groundwater is estimated at 10 km3/year, which gives a total annual renewable water resources of 60 km3. About 40 km3/ year, surface water enters the country, mainly from Guinea (33 km3/year) and Ivory Coast (7 km3/year), bringing the total to 100 km3/year of renewable water resources.

Mali's hydraulic potential remains poorly mobilized. Indeed, less than 5 percent of total renewable resources were exploited in 2006. Current water withdrawals from the irrigation sector are of the order of 5.0 km3 in 2006, or 96.4 percent of the total withdrawal, and come almost entirely from surface water resources.

Land resources and agriculture

Mali is a landlocked country that covers an area of approximately 1.24 million km2, of which 51 percent is desert land. The cultivated areas (arable land and land under permanent crops) occupy 4.7 million ha, or 4 percent of the territory. The potential of land suitable for irrigated cultivation is 2 200 000 ha, of which approximately 566 500 ha are considered to be easily developable from perennial surface water resources.

For more information and country statistics, please visit FAO Aquastat – Mali and FAO Country profile – Mali