Strengthening Mali’s Urban Infrastructure and Institutions to Boost Development

July 16, 2014


In Bamako, the Urban Local Government Support Project is financing the construction of gutters and drains to provide flood protection for more than 28,000 inhabitants. 

  • In the secondary cities of Mopti, Sikasso, Kayes and Segou, the Urban Local Government Support Project will help strengthen local institutional capacities to improve governance and service delivery.
  • Mali’s urban local governments are working closer with civil society to conceive and implement development programs according to the input of their constituents.
  • In Bamako, the project will help bring solutions to the city’s drainage problem, protecting more than 28,000 people from destructive flooding.

BAMAKO, July 16, 2014 - Sprawled along on the banks of the Niger River, 650 kilometers upriver from Bamako, lies the city of Mopti. One of Mali’s largest secondary cities, Mopti has a growing population of more than 110,000 inhabitants and an equally rising incidence of poverty.

Like many Malian cities, Mopti’s remote location isolates it from the country’s administrative center, making development and decentralization a real challenge. Mopti receives few financial transfers from the capital for infrastructure investments, severely limiting the local government’s ability to maintain existing infrastructure and deliver basic public services.  

In the wake of the 2012 coup d’état, Mali seeks to strengthen the institutional capacities of secondary cities such as Mopti, Sikasso, and Segou, in addition to those of Bamako to improve governance, infrastructure, delivery of social services, and civil society participation at a local level.

Through the framework of the Urban Local Government Support Project, financed by a 70 million dollar World Bank credit, Mali will work to empower its municipalities so that they are not only better structured and more accountable, but also so that they can conceive and implement development programs according to the input of their constituents.

In order to encourage efficiency and transparency within local governments, the project allots performance-based investments grants that are disbursed in installments to municipalities only when they have proven their ability to deliver a public service or structure. The better a city performs according to independent performance evaluations, the larger their grant is for the next year.

Progress is already underway as Mali’s municipal governments have begun hosting town halls with community leaders and civil society representatives to identify and implement key infrastructure needs such as the restoration of markets, the construction of roads and gutters, and the extension of public street light networks. 


" In order to reduce the city’s operating costs to afford regular removal of waste from the streets, citizens proposed to voluntarily clean out street gutters themselves "

Oumar Papa Bathily

Mayor of Mopti


Including Mali’s Civil Society in the Decision-making Process

In Mopti, members of the community are eager to develop the city’s infrastructure and seek to be involved in the decision-making process.

Following a town hall discussion, Oumar Papa Bathily, the mayor of Mopti, recalls the motivation of Mopti’s citizens to make large scale sanitation changes in the city. “In order to reduce the city’s operating costs to afford regular removal of waste from the streets, citizens proposed to voluntarily clean out street gutters themselves,” says Mr. Bathily.

The local government of Mopti has agreed to address waste removal in the city following this open discussion with residents.

“Thanks to this project there is a richer dialogue between local authorities and citizens when it comes to implementing changes in the city,” remarked Sidiki Kone, representative of the Regional Council on civil society for the city of Mopti.

The hopes are that with stronger and more transparent institutions that take public feedback into account, Mali’s secondary cities can begin to compete with Bamako, spurring development and the creation of jobs, two critical needs given the increase in population of Mali’s urban areas.

Building Bamako’s Infrastructure

The city of Bamako consists of a large urban area divided into seven local governments; six communes and the District of Bamako.  At present, there is little formal coordination between them, however the government is willing to restructure the system to form a single decentralized entity, the Bamako metropolitan area, in order to improve the delivery of public services throughout the Bamako area.

“The Urban Local Government Support Project is set to help reinforce the institutional capacities of this new entity once it is put in place.  Until then, the project will focus on the construction of critical infrastructure instead of institutional capacity building,” explains Zie Ibrahima Coulibaly, Senior Infrastructure Specialist at the World Bank in charge of the project.

An estimated 50% of the population of Bamako lives in areas without drainage facilities, posing serious challenges to basic hygiene and the prevention of water-borne diseases, particularly during the rainy season. As Bamako’s population continues to expand, the question of adequate sanitation and protection from disastrous flooding will only be exacerbated.

To address Bamako’s drainage problems, the project will provide the means to build gutters and drains to prevent flooding, the construction of which is already underway. When completed, it will provide flood protection for more than 28,000 inhabitants.

Whether it be in Bamako or Mopti, Sikasso or Segou, Maliens in urban areas across the country will not only witness improvements in their city’s infrastructure, but will also be part of the driving force that makes the improvements happen.