Climate security and sustainable management of natural resources in the central regions of Mali for peacebuilding

Project Overview

The proposed "Climate security and sustainable management of natural resources in the central regions of Mali for peacebuilding" project tackles Mali’s interlinked challenges of land degradation and climate change that together threaten the long-term sustainability of vulnerable productive landscapes in the country’s central regions. The proposed project will restore 21,000 hectares of land, implement improved practices in 15,000 hectares, offest 900,000 metric tons of CO2, and reach 150,000 direct beneficiaries (80,000 women and 70,000 men). The project is currently in the PIF stage.

The Republic of Mali is committed to achieving Land Degradation Neutrality, defined by the UNCCD as “a state whereby the amount and quality of land resources, necessary to support ecosystem functions and services and enhance food security, remains stable or increases within specified temporal and spatial scales and ecosystems.” Currently this global challenge is not being met, since the area of Mali over which productivity has been lost in the past two decades far exceeds the small pockets where productivity has been restored, and these trends continue. Evidence is already seen of how climate change and increased climate variability contribute to the desertification and the degradation of ecosystems on which societies depend for food and water security, and projections are that these impacts will worsen over the decades ahead. As anthropogenic and climate impacts shrink the productive natural resource base, so conflicts over land and water intensify, particularly between farming and herding communities, feeding into the ongoing conflict between jihadists and civilian militia.

The proposed project involves strategies that will simultaneously combat land degradation and restore land productivity, help vulnerable communities adapt to climate change, and promote peace-building, with the overarching goal of developing resilient rural communities in Mopti region. The main emphasis of the project is focused on activities on the ground involving communities and their structures, local government, and private sector actors.

*The designations employed and the presentation of material on this map do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Secretariat of the United Nations or UNDP concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

Expected Outcomes

Component 1: Enhancing coordination and monitoring for land degradation neutrality and climate security.

Component 2: Enhancing resilience of degraded  production landscapes with communities vulnerable to climate change.

Component 3: Supporting family farms, youth and women to innovate and adopt resilient and sustainable  livelihoods.

Component 4: Monitoring and evaluation and knowledge management for upscaling.

Project Details

Levels of Intervention

National

Source of Funds

Global Environment Facility - Least Developed Countries Fund

Key Implementers

Country Office
National Governments
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

Funding Amounts

US$7.5 million
US$28 million

Project Partners

Agency for Environment and Sustainable Development (AEDD), Ministry of Environment and Sanitation, Government of Mali
Global Environment Facility (GEF)
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

Project Dates

2021 to 2027

Introduction

The proposed "Climate security and sustainable management of natural resources in the central regions of Mali for peacebuilding" project tackles Mali’s interlinked challenges of land degradation and climate change that together threaten the long-term sustainability of vulnerable productive landscapes in the country’s central regions. The proposed project will restore 21,000 hectares of land, implement improved practices in 15,000 hectares, offest 900,000 metric tons of CO2, and reach 150,000 direct beneficiaries (80,000 women and 70,000 men). The project is currently in the PIF stage.

The Republic of Mali is committed to achieving Land Degradation Neutrality, defined by the UNCCD as “a state whereby the amount and quality of land resources, necessary to support ecosystem functions and services and enhance food security, remains stable or increases within specified temporal and spatial scales and ecosystems.” Currently this global challenge is not being met, since the area of Mali over which productivity has been lost in the past two decades far exceeds the small pockets where productivity has been restored, and these trends continue. Evidence is already seen of how climate change and increased climate variability contribute to the desertification and the degradation of ecosystems on which societies depend for food and water security, and projections are that these impacts will worsen over the decades ahead. As anthropogenic and climate impacts shrink the productive natural resource base, so conflicts over land and water intensify, particularly between farming and herding communities, feeding into the ongoing conflict between jihadists and civilian militia.

The proposed project involves strategies that will simultaneously combat land degradation and restore land productivity, help vulnerable communities adapt to climate change, and promote peace-building, with the overarching goal of developing resilient rural communities in Mopti region. The main emphasis of the project is focused on activities on the ground involving communities and their structures, local government, and private sector actors.

Project Details

October 2020
PIF Approval

Overview

The proposed project tackles Mali’s interlinked challenges of land degradation and climate change that together threaten the long-term sustainability of vulnerable productive landscapes in the country’s central regions. The Republic of Mali is committed to achieving Land Degradation Neutrality, defined by the UNCCD as “a state whereby the amount and quality of land resources, necessary to support ecosystem functions and services and enhance food security, remains stable or increases within specified temporal and spatial scales and ecosystems”. Currently this global challenge is not being met, since the area of Mali over which productivity has been lost in the past two decades far exceeds the small pockets where productivity has been restored, and these trends continue. Evidence is already seen of how climate change and increased climate variability contribute to the desertification and the degradation of ecosystems on which societies depend for food and water security, and projections are that these impacts will worsen over the decades ahead. As anthropogenic and climate impacts shrink the productive natural resource base, so conflicts over land and water intensify, particularly between farming and herding communities, feeding into the ongoing conflict between jihadists and civilian militias.

Addressing interconnected challenges

Demographic pressures and conflict, exacerbated by COVID-19: Mali’s population has been growing at a rate of about 3% per year for the last 15 years, and the current population is estimated at over 20 million. The fertility rate of 5.92 births per woman is one of  highest in the world, and the population is very young, with a median age of 16.3 years. Conflict in the North and Central regions since 2012 has caused significant internal migration, with over 800,000 Malian citizens estimated to be internally displaced, in neighbouring countries, or recently returned in March 2020. Conflict also restricts movement and prevents cultivation of fields located further from the village, worsening the vulnerability of households to food insecurity. Mopti Region saw a rise in conflict in 2019, with the presence of armed groups and self-defence militias, increasing criminality and intercommunal tensions triggering a spiral of violence, reflected in a 25% decline in the area under cultivation compared with the previous year. Before the recent 8 years of conflict, Mopti’s poverty rate at 79% was already much higher than the national average of 43%. A UN report in 2011 highlighted that 59.5% of the population was living on degraded land and only 29.2% had satisfactory water quality, and the conflict years have worsened this situation, as a growing population tries to eke out a living on a shrinking area of productive land, without significant technological investment. Competition over scarce resources further fuels conflict, in a vicious cycle. In this context, the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Mali might have a devastating impact for the population. As of late September 2020, Mali had just over 3,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection, with 129 deaths recorded as being due to the virus. These figures are likely an under-reflection of the real situation, given the poor spread of healthcare facilities across large parts of the country, the low level of testing capacity available, the unavailabilty of “excess deaths” data and analysis, and the unreliable system for recording of deaths generally. The Government of Mali has designed a National Action Plan for the prevention and response to COVID-19. Among the measures taken so far, the Mali government has introduced restrictions on travels to and from Mali, suspended public gatherings, requested the closure of all schools, and, on 25 March, a curfew from 21:00 to 5:00 has been decreed, along with the closure of land borders.

Impacts of climate change

Already observed changes in increased temperatures and diminished rainfall are reducing the absolute area of land suitable for food production nationally. During the most humid month of July, the maximum temperature recorded for the period 1961-1990 was 30.5°C, and this is projected to be 32, 5°C by 2050 and 34.5°C by 2100. Data from Mali’s meteorological services demonstrates a southward encroachment of the Sahelian and Saharan climatic and vegetation zones over the past 40 years, as rainfall has decreased. This is in line with recent studies showing that the Sahara Desert has expanded by 10% over the past century, affecting regional food and water security, and also influencing global weather patterns and human health, as huge seasonal dust clouds are carried across the Atlantic as far as Central America. Analysis of Mali’s rainfall patterns over the past 50 years shows a decrease in total rainfall of 19% in the South and 26% in the North, and communities widely report increased inter-annual variability and a more unpredictable monsoon. Studies indicate that historical climate change across West Africa in the period 2000–2009, relative to a non-warming counterfactual condition (that is, pre-industrial climate), accounted for average annual yield reductions of 10–20% for millet (loss of 2.33–4.02 billion USD in value) and 5–15% for sorghum (loss of 0.73–2.17 billion USD). There is significant uncertainty in climate scientists’ rainfall projections for West Africa over the coming decades, but inter-annual variability, which is already high because of the effect of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone, is likely to grow, and increased temperatures will enhance evapotranspiration. The recently submitted Mali Climate Risk profile confirms the increase in evapotranspiration (according to RCP6.0, evapotranspiration will increase by 2.4% by 2030, 3.7% by 2050 and 7% by 2070), as well as the decrease in soil moisture (-3.7% by 2080 according to RCP6.0). According to the Mali’s third Communication on Climate Change in Mali (2015), the most plausible climate scenarios for 2100 predict a decrease in rainfall in all localities. The Mali Climate Risk profile report also identifies the risks climate change poses on water resources and agriculture sectors. The report projects an expected reduction in water availability per capita of 77% by 2080 (RCP2.6 and RCP6.0), taking into account the projected population growth. In addition, harvests of important crops such as Maize (-13%), Millet and Sorghum (-12%) and peanuts (-7%) are expected to decrease by 2080 (RCP6.0).

The unreliability of rainfall during the rainy season (June-September) is also projected to increase by 2080-2099, with projected changes between -51mm to +37mm in July, -38mm to +88mm in August and -25 to +88mm in August, significantly impacting the risks of flood. Between 1980 and 2012, Mali already experienced six major droughts and two major floods, and the country is likely to see an increase in these disaster types, as well as stronger winds, sand and dust storms, and bush fires, and larger and more frequent locust swarms. More intense rainfall events are predict to increase flash floods in the inland Niger Delta and along river floodplains. Without effective adaptation strategies, many models predict significant decreases in central and northern Mali in both water availability and yields of staple crops rice, millet and sorghum; for example, the Mali NAPA analysis predicts significant losses in staple crops as early as 2025. The central / Sahelian region is most sensitive to changes in rainfall, and households derive over 70% of their income from the land, making them highly vulnerable. A vulnerability mapping study showed over 90% of the Mopti Region as high or very high vulnerability, as defined by a combination of high biophysical exposure to climate impacts, high socio-economic sensitivity and low adaptive capacity.

Poor land management: Mopti Region, where the project focuses, is in the Sahel zone and contains arid and semi-arid ecosystems, as well as the fertile inland delta of the Niger River. Outside of the delta, the natural vegetation is mostly steppe grassland or tree and shrub steppe with Acacia species dominant and other trees like Combretum and Boscia. Mopti is characterised by widespread degradation of natural ecosystems because of unsustainable practices – including overgrazing by livestock, over-extraction of woody vegetation for fuel, removal of natural vegetation to expand crops, and uncontrolled bushfires (sometimes accidentally spread when using fire to clear land). Loss of vegetation allows valuable topsoil to be eroded by wind and rain, resulting in serious sand encroachment in the northern Sahel, and siltation of waterways in the Delta zone. Extreme temperatures and overgrazing cause hardening of the top layers of soil, preventing infiltration of rainwater, furthering the loss of vegetation, and worsening unexpected floods. The area covered by woodland, estimated at 10.1% of the country in 2008, is continually declining. Recent estimates from the National Directorate of Water and Forests show the disappearance of 450,000 to 500,000 ha of woodland per year.The Sahelian zone is identified in Mali’s LDN Country Report as a hotspot of land degradation. Rainfed cropland productivity is also declining – with intermittent localized droughts, and declining soil fertility from shorter fallow periods combined with low use of inputs. Land degradation can also influence local and regional micro-climates, through the albedo effect and alterations in moisture transfer between land surface and the atmosphere.

Poor water management: With increased variability in rainfall and localized droughts, villages in the north and centre of Mali need adaptation strategies to maximize water availability for drinking, sanitation, livestock and crop irrigation. At present, there are parts of Mopti in and around the inland Niger Delta where significant groundwater potential exists, but is not sustainably exploited. There is also inadequate capture of surface water through small dams and rainwater harvesting. In recent years with changing rainfall patterns, Mali’s southern regions have experienced flooding, including flash floods in Bamako in 2013 causing loss of life and displacement of 20,000 people. In the Delta, unexpected high floods have also caused damage, but the opposite problem of insufficient expected, manageable flooding also exists. Seasonal flooding of the massive delta area (comparable only with Okavango) is the basis for irrigated rice, fishing and grazing (as well as a Ramsar Site and important global site for migratory birds), but the inundated area has shrunk from over 35,000 km2 each year to sometimes as small as 10,000 km2 under drought conditions. Underlying this is a decline in the Niger’s average flow – which fell from 1,300 m3/second in 1978 to 895 m3/second in 2002.  Irrigated cropland is subject to problems of leaching and alkalization of soils, and the spread of invasive plants, as well as ineffective management to combat siltation. As vegetation is lost in upstream watersheds, erosion of banks is causing massive siltation of rivers, channels and ponds, especially in the Niger downstream from Bamako and the Delta.

Addressing these root causes of land degradation and likely impacts of climate change and variability requires a coordinated and scaled up effort across Mali. But this is difficult to undertake at a time when government is still battling to stabilize the country, to decentralize and deliver services throughout the fragile central and northern regions, made even more challenging since the political instability at national level in 2020. Since 2012, Mali has faced ongoing conflict, at times caused or worsened by competition over scarce land, water and grazing resources, particularly in the Mopti Region. The government signed a peace accord with northern separatist rebels in 2015, but armed groups continue to assert territorial control in much of the vast desert north. At the same time, Islamist insurgent groups have expanded from the north into previously stable central Mali, allegedly leveraging interethnic tensions and local resentment toward state actors to recruit supporters and foment conflict.

In 2019 Mopti faced a dramatic deterioration of its security situation, with hundreds of recorded violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. The presence of armed groups and self-defence militias, increasing criminality and intercommunal tensions triggered a spiral of violence, leading to a loss of livelihoods for displaced populations, and difficulties in cultivating fields and accessing markets for those who have remained in their villages. A perceived inability to curtail massacres of civilians is one of the issues highlighted in anti-government protests in recent months in Bamako, leading to the forced resignation of President Ibrahim Keita on 18 August 2020. Conflict analysis of Mopti Region shows that rising levels of insecurity led to approximately 1,300 fatalities and tens of thousands of internally displaced people across the region in 2019 only. According to the World Food Programme analysis of the Mopti security situation up to April 2020, in a context already made fragile at many levels – an economy marked by mounting demographic pressures, youth unemployment, soil degradation or scarcity of natural resources, exacerbated by repeated droughts intensified by climate change, the impact of violence on food security is highly threatening: displaced communities lose their livelihoods and those remaining in their villages experience difficulties in cultivating fields and accessing markets.

The proposed project aims to ensure the long-term sustainability of vulnerable productive landscapes in Mali’s central region of Mopti, through nature-based solutions that reverse land degradation, strengthen communities’ resilience to climate change impacts and to conflict that is worsened by climate change. These nature-based solutions will follow the principles of conflict-sensitive adaptation –  critical in areas where there is high dependence on natural resources and in already fragile (politically, socially, economically, environmentally) contexts. International literature on the Sahel shows that the region is both very vulnerable to the physical effects of climate variability and to communal conflicts, the dynamics of which in turn seem to be sensitive to climate variability.

Because of this fragile context, the project preparation phase and final site selection process will involve using consultants with in-depth local cultural as well as agro-ecological knowledge to undertake a detailed scoping of conditions on the ground and consultations with a wide range of stakeholders at local level (following COVID-19 protocols), and particular attention will be paid during the PPG to: (i) the design and resourcing of measures to mitigate security-related risks likely to be faced during project implementation (ii) measures to ensure that the root causes of conflict relating to competition over access to scarce (and declining with climate change) natural resources: and (iii) use the Environmental and Social Management Framework to ensure that conflicts are not inadvertently sparked by project interventions. The vulnerability assessment and mapping process planned for Component 1 will include the application of a security sensitivity framework. The proposed interventions are also built on an analysis of the interdependencies of these challenges  that builds on the RAPTA (Resilience, Adaptation Pathways and Transformation Assessment) methodology developed through the STAP, which highlights a systems view of food security, as dependent on availability of adequate and nutritious food to households in the district, access to adequate and nutritious food, utilization of this food by individuals in a house-hold , and the stability/resilience of the availability, access and utilization of food in the face of shocks and stresses, over time.  The first, second and last of these factors are severely affected by the conflict situation in the Mopti Region, and are further compounded by increasingly erratic rainfall and creeping desertification. Specific barriers to achieving the project’s objective are as follows:

Barriers

Barrier 1: Lack of coordination and capacity for implementing and monitoring environmental agreements

Mali has a fairly comprehensive set of national policies, laws and strategies for achieving its international environmental commitments (including UNFCCC, UNCCD and CBD) . Some interministerial cooperation has been achieved around climate change adaptation through the AEDD, but the mainstreaming of resilience principles into sectors like agriculture, water and forestry, as envisaged in the 2007 NAPA, has not been effectively achieved. This is partly because of the ongoing security situation, the uneven presence of state institutions across the country, and the challenges of decentralization – which has built capacity at regional and cercle (district) levels, but has also caused confusing overlaps between local government and traditional authorities over natural resource management. In addition, Mali’s Land Degradation Neutrality country report to the UNCCD identifies a number of weaknesses that constrain effective implementation of policy, including: institutional conflicts between national directorates and specialized agencies of MEADD and other ministries; difficulty in inter-ministerial coordination around LDN and low-emission climate-resilient development, with significant overlaps in mandates; weak consultation between the focal points of the Rio Conventions, and a lack of monitoring and evaluation mechanisms for consultations upstream of major national and international forums. These challenges are compounded by a high turnover of officials in AEDD and other key agencies. Mali has recently set overall targets for achieving LDN by 2030, through actions to reduce forest loss, regreen woodland and grassland areas, restore soil fertility, and protect wetlands. Still missing is the identification of key indicators (in most countries these are: (i) land cover and land cover change, (ii) land productivity and (iii) soil organic carbon), agreement how these will be measured and monitored, setting of baselines and targets, and then a detailed implementation plan for the actions required. Although climate vulnerability mapping has featured in some donor-funded projects, there is no long-term system for regular assessment and mapping nationwide, or for ongoing analysis of the links between security and climate change risks. Challenges identified in the 2019-2021 budget framework for MEADD include “the establishment of a monitoring system and continuous surveillance of the environment and the dynamics of forest and wildlife resources”.  Much data and monitoring capacity exists in Mali, scattered between different government departments and agencies, research institutes and universities, but there has been little coordination, and reporting on Mali’s progress to the MEAs is not done in a coherent and integrated fashion.

Barrier 2: Lack of a systemic approach to enhancing resilience of degraded production landscapes

There is a need for landscape restoration interventions to be piloted, adapted for local context and scaled up across the country, utilizing existing processes for cross-sectoral climate change adaptation planning for economic sectors, wherever possible. Mali,  and particularly the Mopti Region, has complex, interlinked socio-ecological systems built around grazing, farming and fishing that are increasingly vulnerable to climate impacts[6]. A number of donor-funded projects and programmes have tackled the challenges of restoring the productivity of land and water systems, and helping communities develop their capacity to adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change. What is missing, however, is a systemic approach that aligns such interventions within an overall strategy (see Barrier 1 above). Sectors of government, such as agriculture, economic development, livestock, fisheries, water and forestry, have limited budgets and little presence on the ground in the central regions. Where they are engaged in development activities, this tends to be sporadic and isolated, and interventions are not based on a systemic understanding of climate and other risks across the landscape, and how these can be managed in an integrated fashion. For example, a new pond may be dug, but no effort made to stabilize the river banks upstream, leading to the pond quickly silting up. In the central regions, with limited government presence, land use decisions are taken by local actors such as village chiefs, and there is no systematic land use policy or planning. There is a need to work with the resources that do exist on the ground and strengthen local governance of natural resources in a manner which enhances climate resilience, promotes peace, and allows for social inclusion and equity. Community NRM structures need to cooperate with customary mechanisms and committees to negotiate agreements between herding, farming and fishing communities on boundaries for grazing and farmland, access to pasture and water, timing and regulated migration. They also need to feed into local government land use and development planning, through the Economic, Social and Cultural Development Plans of target cercles and communes. Technical training and support in accessing inputs is also needed for farming households (including women-headed households) to adapt farming practices to climate change, and restore land productivity through regeneration of tree cover in farmlands, and sustainable land and water management techniques, building on traditional knowledge and local preferences. Although donor-funded projects have led to some communal rehabilitation works to restore land and water resources (e.g. desilting water infrastructure, stabilizing dunes to prevent sand encroachment) and develop new water sources in a sustainable basis, there is a need for this work to be better coordinated, and scaled up, with work opportunities created especially for youth and internally displaced people.

Barrier 3: Insufficient support for households and communities wishing to diversify their production activities

As the changing climate puts increasing pressure on the natural ecosystems on which traditional livelihoods such as fishing, livestock-keeping and cereal-crop farming depend, there is a need to (i) adapt these practices to changing conditions, (ii) diversify into other activities which are less directly dependent on these fragile ecosystems, and (iii) generate cash income so households can buy the food and materials needed for enhanced resilience. This is particularly true in the central and northern regions, and it is here that government agencies have the least presence on the ground, which makes achieving effective agricultural extension support a challenge. In this context, there is a need for projects and programmes funded by government’s technical and financial partners to fill some of the gaps in the short term, and to help build government extension capacity for the longer term. At present, agricultural extension services are limited, and concentrated in the cotton-producing regions of the south, not in the mostly subsistence-oriented farmers in the central regions, whose agricultural yields are highly vulnerable to climate change, and who have little opportunity for diversification. Although there is potential for value-add activities e.g. processed products from fish grown in aquaculture ponds, or processed millet with a longer shelf, communities lack training on new opportunities, micro-finance and access to markets. There is also a lack of access to electricity for processing agri-products, and for cold storage, and while solar water heating is widespread, photovoltaic technology is more expensive and complex, and communities lack skills to install and maintain equipment. Although government has a number of programmes to support youth entrepreneurs, in practice access to opportunities has tended to be limited to young people in urban areas whose families have government connections. Such initiatives have generally focused on individuals involved in trading, and have not facilitated real entrepreneurial growth and job creation. There is a need to learn from the more successful initiatives (e.g. TETILITSO and DoniLab) and create links to these for emerging entrepreneurs in rural areas, including women, young people and internally displaced people, all of whom may have limited direct access to productive assets, but can get involved in value addition and new value chains. There is a particular need to support organizations for widowed women, who sometimes receive local government support, but are often left without access to land or productive assets because of discriminatory legislation and customary practices. Access to regular commercial loan finance is near-impossible for many rural entrepreneurs, especially youth and married women, but progressive microfinance opportunities do exist (e.g. APPIM, PMR) and even loan guarantees for promising projects (FGSPSA, ANPE’s FARE Fund), and need to be made accessible.

Barrier 4: Few opportunities for sharing learning across initiatives for evaluation and national scale-up

Although there is a large number of recent and current initiatives (see Section 2 below), and these initiatives do  monitor their own progress, there is little systematic effort to share learning between initiatives. (These include initiatives that address stabilization and peace-building, planning for climate change adaptation, early warning systems and flood protection, resilience of rural communities, integrated water resource management, biodiversity conservation, sustainable land and water management, and entrepreneurship and economic development.) There is also a tendency for pilot or demonstration activities carried out in a particular area to remain limited to that area. Regional platforms which were established to promote climate change adaptation across sectors have been successful while project funding lasts, but have not managed to sustain themselves thereafter. There is a need to harmonize and rationalize the knowledge management activities of a set of related initiatives that are important for achieving LDN and climate security. Related to Barrier 1, there is a need for agreement on ways to measure progress, so that the efforts of disparate initiatives can all be matched up against national targets. There is also much untapped potential for sharing the lessons of Mali’s Sahel zone with those of other countries – northern Senegal, southern Mauritania, northern Burkina Faso, southern Algeria, southwestern Niger, northern Nigeria, central Chad, central Sudan and northern Eritrea. There are a number of international initiatives under the umbrellas of the African Forest Landscapes Restoration Initiative (AFR-100) and the Great Green Wall which are generating learning about best practice, and effective and cost-effective ways of combating desertification in this region. In recent years, with the difficult security situation in Mali, lessons from Mali are not being shared optimally with the rest of the region and in international fora, and there is a need to create such opportunities. There are also barriers to effective monitoring and evaluation of donor-funded projects in Mali – because of the constraints under which many project management teams operate, evaluation is often limited to measuring the outputs of a project, and not finding creative ways to assess its overall impact; what really worked and what didn’t, and why; and how the positive impacts can be sustained and scaled up. Project monitoring is also rarely linked in to long term development of monitoring capacity at regional and national levels for purposes of MEA reporting.

Project overview

The proposed project involves strategies that will simultaneously combat land degradation / restore land productivity, help vulnerable communities adapt to climate change, and promote peace-building, with the overarching goal of developing resilient rural communities in Mopti region. The main emphasis of the project, and the bulk of the proposed resources, are focused on activities on the ground involving communities and their structures, local government, and private sector actors – through Components 2 and 3. The project interventions in Component 1 support the on-the-ground efforts of Components 2 and 3, through creating an enabling environment that supports strategies for restoration of land productivity and climate change adaptation, and sets a baseline for and tracks changes in communities’ climate change vulnerability and adaptive capacity. The project is very timely because the country has recently developed its programme for defining national targets for Land Degradation Neutrality, and is ready to enhance coordination for implementation of adaptation and re-greening strategies, and for tracking progress towards achievement of land degradation neutrality and climate security. In this alternative scenario, an LDN action plan is developed across all economic sectors for achieving the targets, and a monitoring system is set up – building on existing data to review and agree on baselines, targets, indicators and means of measurement. The project activities in Component 4 enable knowledge platforms for replication and scale-up, facilitating learning within and beyond Mopti Region, and sharing of lessons learnt with other countries of the Sahel zone. They also equip youths in Mopti to support on agroecological monitoring of project results and impacts, which can be fed back through the IER into the national action plan as a pilot for monitoring.

In this alternative scenario, significant resources are invested through the project in building resilience of highly vulnerable communities of Mopti to the impacts of climate change, in particular drought – expected to become more frequent and serious as a result of climate change, on top of human-induced degradation of agro-ecosystems. Since the nett result of these climate and anthropogenic effects is a shrinking of productive capacity, the focus in the alternative scenario is on project interventions that restore and enhance productive capacity – in the process also reducing competition over natural resources and enabling adaptation to climate change. In Component 2, there is an improvement in local governance through developing capacity of community natural resource management committees. This improved governance enables better decision-making on land use, including access to pastures and water – so that conflicts are avoided and natural regeneration of productive capacity is enabled. The component also involves intervening on the ground to: (i) restore crop / agroforestry productive capacity through equipping small-scale farmers to regreen their farmlands; (ii) maximize crop / agroforestry land productive capacity though supporting farmers on climate-smart agriculture and aquaculture; and (iii) restore pastureland productive capacity and water resources through communal restoration by the village-level committees.

As part of the alternative scenario there is a need to provide inputs on a sustainable basis to climate-smart agriculture, and to enable market access for its products. Selling climate-smart agricultural produce and value-added products will bring new income streams into households, and provide cash that can be used to improve nutritional status and strengthen homes against disaster. Such enhanced and diversified household incomes are important for building resilience against external shocks and stresses of all kinds – including civil conflict and climate hazards. In Component 3, technical assistance is provided for establishing cooperatives businesses involving youth and women. Some businesses may develop inputs for climate-smart agriculture, such as liquid fertilizer or agroforestry seedlings. Other businesses may enhance the economic sustainability of the climate-smart agri- and aquaculture by adding value to its products, e.g. primary processing of drought-resistant millet, or fish drying and smoking, and selling these products on local markets. Component 3 will also facilitate the incubation of sustainable youth-led businesses that can enable the productivity-enhancing adaptation strategies of Component 2, for example, businesses that enhance the supply of water for dry season vegetable irrigation, or energy for primary agri-processing activities at village level. Some youth might develop business concepts for more sophisticated levels of processing, for example, turning millet into snack foods, porridge, wine, nutrition powder or poultry feed. Scholarships will also be provided for local youth to obtain the skills for manufacture and maintenance of these technologies, where appropriate.

As part of the alternative scenario, climate change adaptation co-finance from financial and technical partners of the Government of Mali will contribute to enhancing resilience of degraded production landscapes through rehabilitation efforts, including a GCF program on climate change adaptation in the Niger basin (including Mopti) and two partnerships with the government of Canada through FAO on climate-resilient agriculture for food security. A project also funded by Canada, through IFAD, on access to finance for agricultural value chains, including in the central regions, will support the GEFTF/LDCF project’s Component 3, which aims to develop capacity of farm households to innovate and adopt resilient and sustainable livelihoods. Pression with private sector partners agreed business incubation hub is proposed for Output 3.2, supporting youth on climate-smart agri business incubation and technology for adaptation. An investment by the government of Monaco on women’s livelihoods will support Output 3.1 on building household adaptive capacity through supporting value chains for climate-resilient crops and products.

Activities in Components 2 and 3 of the project will be focused in three target landscapes in Mopti Region. These landscapes, to be made up of clusters of Communes (rural municipalities), for example across a micro-watershed, may be focused in any of the 8 Cercles (districts) of Mopti Region, and the exact target landscapes will be selected during the PPG phase. At that time, a security analysis will be conducted to understand the extent to which the security situation in specific Cercles enables or prevents the carrying out of project activities. Depending on the security situation, a case could be made for focusing on the three Cercles of Youwarou, Douentza and Koro. These three cercles are the districts of Mopti where studies show that communities are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. This includes studies by GIZ undertaken in 2019, confirming the findings as indicated on the map below – from a detailed climate vulnerability analysis conducted through USAID in 2014 (northern part of country not included due to low population density). This map shows cumulative results for vulnerability, using various indicators for (i) biophysical exposure to climate hazards, (ii) socio-economic sensitivity, and (iii) adaptive capacity. The three cercles also include two of the five natural regions of the Sahel identified as hotspots of land degradation in Mali’s 2020 Land Degradation Neutrality Report – the Gourma hotspot, and the Gondo-Mondoro hotspot. The Youwarou Cercle also includes a portion of the inland Niger Delta which is flooded annually and provides critical seasonal resources for hundreds of fishing, farming and pastoralist communities. The delta zone is highly vulnerable to climate change and human-induced degradation, and simultaneously forms the poses an enormous asset for the Mopti Region in building resilience. The precise clusters of communes (target landscapes) to be involved will be decided during the project preparation phase, since travel has not been possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Strategy and action framework for response to the COVID-19 pandemic: In the alternative scenario, the project contributes to the Government’s response to the pandemic, supported by the United Nations (UN) and other financial and technical partners. According to a rapid analysis by the UN Country Team of the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 in Mali, the indirect socio-economic impacts are likely to be even more devastating than the direct health effects. The study, conducted in May 2020, observed a sharp loss of jobs in the secondary and tertiary sectors of the economy, and reported that 4 million children were estimated to be out of school. The study’s projections for the country as a result of global economic slowdown include: a decline of 0.9% in GDP for 2020 (as against 5% growth in 2019), an increase of the number of people living in extreme poverty by 800,000, an increase in the need for food assistance by 70%, and loss of state revenue causing the debt burden to increase from 39% to 45% of GDP.

During the PPG, the UNDP Mali Country Office will support the consultant team to conduct regular assessments of both the security situation and COVID-19 pandemic impacts in the country, and specifically in Mopti Region, and to put in place appropriate measures to ensure the safety of all stakeholders involved in project design and implementation. This will take into account (i) what impact the pandemic (or measures to contain it) has had on government capacity/resources to implement the work proposed in the project (or other baseline initiatives), either at the enabling level or practically; (ii) how targeted project beneficiaries have been affected (e.g. disruption of supply chains, price increases etc); and (iii) how will implementation be affected if there is recurrent outbreaks of this or other diseases during implementation.

The proposed project strategy is to contributes in two ways to assisting the Government of Mali with a “green recovery” from the pandemic, building on UNDP’s support to Government, and on the Government’s commitment of new resources for social protection, corresponding to 1.3% of GDP. This strategy responds to the guidance document “GEF’s Response to COVID-19”, and has a dual action framework including for alignment of the project goals with the response and recovery strategies: 

1. Actions to support COVID-19 response in the short-term: The proposed project has been designed to maximize opportunities for job creation and training, local economic development, and productivity improvements, as follows:

Job creation through small business development: In Output 3.2 of the project, youth-led climate-smart agribusinesses, technologies and services are developed. This includes work to: (i) provide opportunities for local youth from target communities to receive entrepreneurship training in existing incubator programmes in Mopti city; (ii) promote access to loan finance and loan guarantees for youth with solid business plans and family/community backing – in agri-processing and climate-smart technologies. In Output 2.2, training is provided in 9-12 target communes in Mopti to develop farmers’ capacity for Assisted Natural Regeneration and other Sustainable Land and Water Management (SLWM) techniques, building on traditional knowledge and local preferences.

Productivity improvements: In Output 2.2 of the project, technical and financial support are provided to farming households (including women headed households) to adapt farming practices to climate change, and restore farm productivity. This includes work to: (i) form agro-ecological farmer’s groups / Farmer Field Schools, including women farmers, and establish demonstration plots for train-the-trainer activities; (ii) provide heads of households (male and female) with regeneration incentive package (e.g. shears, pickaxe, wheelbarrow, boots and gloves); and (iii) promote climate-smart agriculture – including new drought-resistant local crops/varieties, improved pest management, fodder and fruit trees, and dry season gardening schemes, providing training and equipment, (e.g. seeds, seedlings, polyethylene bags, watering cans and spades).

2. Actions to support COVID-19 response in the long-term: The proposed project has been designed to maximize opportunities for strengthening supply chains, consistent with long-term decarbonization targets, and increasing natural and economic resilience and adaptive capacity, as follows:

Strengthening supply chains: In Output 3.1 of the project, new value chains for climate-resilient crops and processed products are identified and catalyzed. This includes work to: (i) empower organizations of widowed women with climate-smart business and leadership training; (ii) support / establish women producer associations and cooperatives of youth and displaced people e.g. for processing of cereal crops, fish drying and smoking, liquid fertilizer, seedling nurseries etc., conducting value chain analysis and market studies with them; and (iii) support set-up and first two years of operation of cooperative climate-smart businesses – including partnerships for land and infrastructure, technical training and business planning, market access and savings groups/micro-credit.

Supporting long-term decarbonization targets: Output 3.2 of the project involves creating scholarships for local youth to be trained in supply and maintenance of solar PV technology for adaptation activities (water pumps and agri-processing for adaptation). Solar power also support low-emissions development strategies and decarbonization targets as part of the post-COVID green recovery.  

Increasing natural and economic resilience and adaptive capacity: In Output 2.4 of the project, land and water resources (outside of family farms) are restored through communal restoration works for ecosystem-based adaptation. This includes work to: (i) train community resource management committees and community members, including youth and displaced persons, to analyze adaptation needs, and to plan, carry out and monitor rehabilitation efforts; (ii) equip commune / village-level committees and carry out plantings for rehabilitation of pastureland and protection of villages from sand encroachment; (iii) equip committees to develop and sustainably restore watercourses (channels, rivers, ponds, pools) and carry out rehabilitation works; and (iv) equip committees to construct/rehabilitate communal earth dams, and wells with solar PV-powered pumps, to increase household water supply and irrigation (for Output 2.1).

*References available in project documents.

Level of Intervention: 
Primary Beneficiaries: 
150,000 (80,000 women and 70,000 men)
Implementing Agencies & Partnering Organizations: 
Agency for Environment and Sustainable Development (AEDD), Ministry of Environment and Sanitation, Government of Mali
Global Environment Facility (GEF)
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Project Status: 
Source of Funds Approval/Endorsement
Location: 
Urban
Financing Amount: 
US$7.5 million
Co-Financing Total: 
US$28 million

Key Results and Outputs

Component 1: Enhancing coordination and monitoring for land degradation neutrality and climate security. The planned outcome of this component is that capacity is improved for national coordination and monitoring, to achieve implementation of Land Degradation Neutrality targets. Given the current high level of uncertainty around the political transition in Mali, the AEDD will be supported on this component by the Mali Geographic Institute (IGM)[1] and the Institute of Rural Economy (IER)[2]. These institutes will be responsible respectively for undertaking capacity needs and gap analyses, and designing capacity development interventions on two fronts: for preparing climate risk and vulnerability assessments and maps (LDCF) and for achieving and monitoring targets for Land Degradation Neutrality (GEFTF). This will involve work at national level around LDN targets, building on existing data to review and agree on baselines, targets, indicators and means of measurement / monitoring, and enable long-term monitoring plots through unlocking research partnerships. Following global trends, indicators may focus on the three core areas of land cover and land cover change, land productivity and soil organic carbon[3]. Over the six-year project period, training will be conducted at regional levels in all of Mali’s 8 regions for climate vulnerability assessment and mapping. This component will link to Component 4, where youth monitors will be trained in the target landscapes of Mopti to pilot “bottom-up” monitoring that can feed into the “top-down” national monitoring through satellite data.

Output 1.1: Action plan for achieving and monitoring targets for Land Degradation Neutrality (GEFTF)

    Conduct survey to assess government and partner capacity for implementing strategies and actions for LDN, and enforcing relevant legislation

    Undertake review of natural resource legislation to harmonize and address gaps for effective management and restoration, including potential tree tenure reform as the basis for effective Assisted Natural Regeneration (ANR)[4]

    Hold a series of workshops led by Mali’s Institute of Rural Economy (IER) with government (national, regional, cercle[5] levels represented), research and civil society partners to develop an action plan for achieving and monitoring targets for Land Degradation Neutrality

Output 1.2: Regional biennial climate risk and vulnerability assessments and maps developed, with an application of security sensitivity framework (LDCF)

    The Mali Geographic Institute (IGM) to work with Météo Mali to develop a common methodology for measuring the vulnerability and adaptive capacity of communities to climate change, building on existing initiatives[6]

    Conduct training for youth from all 8 regions to carry out assessment, with household surveys and ground-truthing of maps

    Carry out a biennial climate change vulnerability assessment and mapping across all 8 regions of Mali

    Report results to the public, analyzing links between security and climate change risks, and providing a spatial risk analysis with recommended mitigation and governance actions

Component 2: Enhancing resilience of degraded  production landscapes with communities vulnerable to climate change. The planned outcome of this component is that productivity is restored and yields increased in vulnerable grazing,  farming and fishing landscapes through effective community management in three target landscapes of Mopti Region, potentially in the highly vulnerable cercles of Youwarou, Douentza and Koro (to be finalized and specific sites to be determined in PPG). The component involves the clusters of work outlined below – strengthening natural resource management through capacitated community committees structures and agreements between herders and farmers; supporting farmers to undertake climate-smart agriculture and regreening efforts on their land; and undertaking communal restoration works for grazing land and water resources. The agriculture and agroforestry activities here will also be linked to small business development in Component 3, prioritizing opportunities for women and youth. There will be further discussions with stakeholders in local government and communities level during the project preparation phase, to achieve an understanding of communities’ adaptive capacity and needs, any underlying sources of competition or conflict, and what would work in a particular socio-ecological system, ensuring that specific project interventions are carefully designed to promote peace and reconciliation between communities in target landscapes in Mopti, and to avoid unintentionally feeding into underlying tensions or conflicts – applying a conflict-sensitive adaptation approach. 

 

Output 2.1: Community natural resource management committees are established and adaptation actions are embedded in local development plans (GEFTF)

    Undertake baseline survey and annual update with communities in 9-12 target communes in Mopti[7] on climate vulnerability, adaptive capacity, production practices and livelihood activities, and household income, using this as a pilot for national system

    Integrate community land management for adaptation and rehabilitation into the Economic, Social and Cultural Development Plans and budgetiung frameworks of Cercle Councils and Commune Councils[8]

    Build new or redynamize existing community resource management committees at village level[9], involving women and youth

    Use customary mechanisms and committees to negotiate, formalize and uphold agreements between herding, farming and fishing communities on boundaries for grazing and farmland, access to pasture and water, timing and regulated migration, and NRM[10] agreements (including pastoral corridors)

Output 2.2: Training and inputs provided to farmers in 9-12 target communes in Mopti for regreening of farmlands (GEFTF)

    Provide training to develop farmers’[11] capacity for Assisted Natural Regeneration[12] and other Sustainable Land and Water Management (SLWM)[13] techniques, building on traditional knowledge and local preferences

    Form agro-ecological farmer’s groups / Farmer Field Schools, including women farmers, and establish demonstration plots for train-the-trainer activities

    Provide heads of households (male and female) with regeneration incentive package (e.g. shears, pickaxe, wheelbarrow, boots and gloves)

Output 2.3: Capacity development programme for climate-smart agriculture delivered to farm households in target communes (LDCF)

    Provide training and inputs[14] – including new drought-resistant local crops/varieties, improved pest management, fodder and fruit trees, and dry season gardening schemes

    Advocate for climate-smart agriculture and SLWM through developing and piloting in local languages: a radio programme, a short message service for farmers, a capacitated network of traditional communicators, and materials for schools

Output 2.4: Communal restoration work undertaken over 21,000 hectares of degraded grass/shrubland and wetlands (LDCF)

    Train community resource management committees and community members, including youth and displaced persons, to analyze adaptation needs, and to plan, carry out and monitor rehabilitation efforts

    Equip commune / village-level committees and carry out plantings for rehabilitation of pastureland and protection of villages from sand encroachment

    Equip committees to develop and sustainably restore watercourses (channels, rivers, ponds, pools) and carry out rehabilitation works

    Equip committees to construct/rehabilitate communal earth dams, and wells with solar PV-powered pumps, to increase household water supply and irrigation (for Output 2.1)

Component 3: Supporting family farms, youth and women to innovate and adopt resilient and sustainable livelihoods. The planned outcome of this component is that rural households and community-based organizations enhance their resilience to conflict and climate change by restarting and diversifying productive activities and businesses that spread household risk, whilst simultaneously provide inputs to climate-smart agriculture, or adding value to climate-smart agricultural products. The component involves two clusters of work outlined below – (i) supporting the strengthening / establishment of small agri-businesses and cooperatives at village level, (based on the enhanced and diversified production stimulated in Component 2); and (ii) linking these to value chains beyond the village through targeted support to youth entrepreneurs. Further discussion will be held with stakeholders in the private sector, government and civil society during the project preparation phase, including scoping of potential in particular target landscapes, and what partnerships can be forged with agribusiness innovation hubs, and providers of micro-finance and technical training in Mopti city.

Output 3.1: New cooperative climate-smart businesses established involving women, youth and displaced people (LDCF)

    Empower organizations of widowed women with climate-smart business and leadership training

    Support / establish women producer associations and cooperatives of youth and displaced people e.g. for processing of cereal crops, fish drying and smoking, liquid fertilizer, seedling nurseries etc., conducting value chain analysis and market studies with them

    Support set-up and first two years of operation of cooperative climate-smart businesses – including partnerships for land and infrastructure, technical training and business planning, market access and savings groups/micro-credit[15]

Output 3.2: Entrepreneurship training and business incubation services provided to youth from target landscapes for adaptation-linked business ideas (LDCF)

    Provide opportunities for local youth from target communities to receive entrepreneurship training in existing incubator programmes in Mopti city

    Promote access to loan finance and loan guarantees for youth with solid business plans and family/community backing – in agri-processing and climate-smart technologies

    Create scholarships for local youth to be trained e.g. in maintenance of solar PV systems (supporting adaptation activities)[16].

Component 4: Monitoring and evaluation and knowledge management for upscaling. The planned outcome is that project impacts are monitored and learning shared for scale-up of results across Sahel regions of Mali, and beyond. This involves two proposed outputs, with indicative activities for further discussion with stakeholders in national and regional government agencies, research institutions, development partners and civil society. The two clusters of work are outlined below – (i) creating platforms for scaling up the project learning across Mali and the Sahel; and (ii) facilitating learning exchanges and training of youth to feed into a monitoring system, both for the project, and also feeding into the implementation and monitoring of the LDN action plan in Component 1.

Output 4.1: Knowledge platform operational for coordination and lessons sharing among stakeholders at commune, cercle, region, national and international levels (GEFTF)

    Establish a knowledge platform with online and face-to-face elements, including project stakeholders and all related initiatives (peace-building, adaptation, mitigation, sustainable agriculture etc)

    Hold annual multi-stakeholder dialogues through the platform in target Cercles and Mopti Region to address interrelated challenges of SLWM, peace and climate security

    Host a national learning event[17] on Climate Security and Sustainable NRM to share learning from project, inviting participation by other conflict-affected Sahelian countries[18] to promote South-South engagement

    Produce a lessons learnt publication and series of short videos and use these as basis for participation by Mali in international forums to disseminate lessons learnt

Output 4.2: A participatory M&E and learning framework is developed and implemented for project as a whole (including sites for Component 2 and 3 activities) (LDCF)

    Develop, implement and monitor youth and gender action plans for project

    Arrange learning exchange visits to share experiences in climate change adaptation and agro-ecological restoration between target villages, communes and cercles

    Operationalize the mechanism for monitoring changes in agro-ecological ecosystem condition, adaptive capacity and resilience in the Mopti region, including training and equipping youth monitors who feed data back via the Institute for Rural Economy to the national LDN action plan

_____________________________

[1] The Mali Geographic Institute (IGM) is in charge of the production, maintenance and diffusion of geographic reference information in Mali, including on land cover, land use and land degradation.

[2] The Institute of Rural Economy (IER) is the main research institution in Mali for the implementation of the national agricultural research policy, covering all of Mali's agro-ecological zones, and addressing climate change vulnerability and adaptation strategies.

[3] UNCCD (2016) Scaling up Land Degradation Neutrality Target Setting - from Lessons to Actions: 14 Pilot Countries’ Experiences

[4] Assisted Natural Regeneration (ANR) or la Régénération Naturelle Assistée (RNA) is the term used in Mali for Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR), as the most successful proven technique for sustainable regreening in the Sahel - see https://fmnrhub.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/FMNR-Field-Manual_DIGITAL_FA.pdf or http://fmnrhub.com.au/regeneration-assistee/ or https://regreeningafrica.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/FMNR-Booklet-French_High-Res_web.pdf

[5]A cercle is a rural district

[6] Potential exists for co-financing from the German Government, building on the 2017 Climate Change Risk Assessment in Mali by MERADD and AEDD in Partnership with GIZ, funded by BMZ.

[7] Component 1 and 4 of the project will be carried out at national scale, as well as with the regional government of Mopti Region. Components 2 and 3 of the project are proposed to take place in three target landscapes, to be selected during the project preparation phase, according to criteria agreed by the Technical Committee under AEDD, in consultation with stakeholders. A target landscape could, for example: (i) involve 3-4 contiguous communes, in a particular cercle (or crossing cercle boundaries if this makes sense ecologically; (ii) be in an area shown on the map below as vulnerable or highly vulnerable to climate change; and (iii) have visible evidence of ecosystem degradation, for example, thinned woodland, bare soils, silted waterways, or sand-encroached dwellings.

[8] A commune is a rural municipality

[9] Potentially in all the villages of the 9-12 target communes

[10] Natural Resource Management

[11] Including farming households headed by women (including widows and divorced women)

[12] Assisted Natural Regeneration (ANR) or la Régénération Naturelle Assistée (RNA) is the name given in Mali to the concept sometimes known as Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration. This approach has proven highly effective in the Sahel context and has multiple benefits – it can restore land productivity, reverse desertification and enhance resilience to disaster: increasing crop yields, improving groundwater recharge, retaining soil moisture, and increasing soil organic carbon, nutrient recycling, shade, wind and dust barriers, fodder and compost production and availability of fruit and medicine.

[13] For example, soil and water conservation strategies such as digging half-moon pits, contour bunds with stone, banquets etc.

[14] e.g. seeds, seedlings, polyethylene bags, watering cans and spades

[15] Potentially in partnership with the National Agency for Youth Employment, and with entrepreneurship support providers such as TETELISO and Doni-Labs

[16] Potentially in partnership with the Renewable Energy Agency

[17] Potentially through a partnership with the UN Peacebuilding Forum

[18] Particularly through existing GEF projects in these countries with related goals, which may have resources to enable such participation