Mali, West Africa : Protecting agriculture from a climate zone shift

The landlocked Republic of Mali, stretching deep into the Sahara, is already subject to frequent droughts. Increasing temperatures and decreasing rainfall, in both recent history and future projections, indicate a significant climate zone shift. The Sahara desert is creeping southwards, encroaching over productive land and threatening vital crops and livestock. A new case study, centred on the Mopti region, takes an in-depth look at the climate-related risks faced in order to form a solid basis for a comprehensive climate-resilience concept.

Potential annual losses of US$ 300 million

The cost of climate zone shift to agriculture in Mali is estimated at up to US$ 300 million per year (15% of agricultural and livestock value) – a frighteningly high figure in a country where 69%* of the population is estimated to live below the international poverty line of US$ 1.25 a day. Without sufficient adaptation, climate zone shift in the  region will dramatically decrease the yields of agriculture and livestock. This is also likely to accelerate the migration to the south of the country.  Intensifying the effect of the climate shift are agricultural and domestic practices that enhance soil erosion. These include slash and burn deforestation, which has reduced the country’s forest cover by almost 50% since the 1980s in the plight to meet about 90% of Mali’s cooking and heating requirements.

Cost-effective prevention measures

A number of financially attractive measures have been identified as means of avoiding future losses of existing land and livestock in Mopti. For instance, some asset-based adaptation measures, such as irrigation systems and the provision of water for cattle, could contribute to the “climate-proofing” of yields. Additional activities could be the extension of the land area dedicated to horticulture, bi-annual harvesting and the cultivation of agro-forestry in crop fields. In view of Mali’s early stage of development and low asset exposure, insurance would represent a cost-effective complement to the proposed adaptation measures. This would give farmers protection against the financial consequences of devastating climatic impact.

* United Nations World Food Programme

GDP, %1

1 Based upon select regions analyzed within the countries (e.g., Mopti, Mali; Georgetown, Guyana Hull, UK; North and Northeast China; Maharashtra, India; Central regions of Tanzania; Southeast Florida, U.S.)

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