Land and Resources, Environmental Issues
Mali's environment suffers from an ongoing drought that has lasted for decades. Despite the drought, most of the population depends on agriculture for its livelihood. Traditional fuels, particularly fuelwood and charcoal, provide the bulk of all energy used in the country. Consequently, Mali—which is only 9.5 percent (1995) forested—has a 1 percent (1990-1996) annual rate of deforestation. Drought, deforestation, and increased farming of marginal lands have caused soil degradation and dramatic desertification in Mali, and the Sahara has expanded south at an alarming rate. The drought and loss of habitat, combined with poaching of threatened species, has helped drive animal species to the brink of extinction.
The country also suffers from water pollution due to poor sanitation. Only 6 percent (1990-1998) of all Malians have access to adequate sanitation. As a result, water from rivers and wells is often contaminated with bacteria, and only 66 percent (1990-1998) of the population has access to safe drinking water.
The government has designated 3.7 percent (1997) of Mali's total land area protected. It has ratified international environmental agreements pertaining to biodiversity, climate change, desertification, endangered species, and ozone layer protection.