Mali NCAP Project

Submitted by Sukaina Bharwani | published 25th Mar 2011 | last updated 4th Aug 2023


Photo: Community Meeting in Massabla. Credit: NCAP

Like many sub-Saharan countries, Mali already experiences the effects of severe droughts and rainfall variability, leading to problems of water supply and water shortages. If no action is taken, this state of shortage of water may have very serious consequences for the population, especially rural in rural areas, and is likely to be exacerbated by climate change. The Netherlands Climate Assistance Programme (NCAP) was initiated in order to find community led solutions to these water shortages . Its overall objective is to carry out studies on climate change and the adaptation of the physical and human environment of Mali with regard to these changes. Two case studies were undertaken:


Case Study 1: The Study Of Ultimate Users Of Water Resources And Dialogue With Communities

The sites selected for this study are Kiban (Koulikoro region), Diouna (Ségou region), and Massabla (Commune of Bougouni, Sikasso region).

Objectives assigned to the study are specifically aimed at:

  • Determining, at the level of the three sites selected, the potential of surface and underground water resources (in quantity and in quality);
  • Determining sectors that use the water resources;
  • Determining water resources' ultimate users, their current, and future requirements over the next 25 years; and
  • Using the WEAP software for modeling the rational use of water resources, with a view to minimizing eventual conflicts.

Case Study 2: The Identification and Selection of Appropriate Water Resource Management Technologies

Objectives assigned to this study, carried out in the localities of Massabla, Diouna and Kiban, are specifically aimed at:

  • Making an inventory of the technology used in the field of the adaptation of water resources to climate change;
  • Identifying and selecting the most appropriate technology;
  • Proposing better technology if necessary; and
  • Proposing a technology transfer methodology.
  • Developing a seasonal calendar. Credit: NCAP.

Methods and Tools

Methodology Case Study 1

In addition to experts opinions, the methodological approaches that were used in this study are as follows:

Data collection was conducted in three phases:

  • Documentary retrievals allowed for the collection of all documents likely to contribute to the document that takes into account all the elements of the terms of reference of the study. This data was collected for each locality.
  • Holding of village assembly meetings: the consultants went to the sites to carry out dialogues with the water resource users. To this end, a general assembly meeting was held at each of the three sites in the presence of all social groups of the population, to collect data on potential water resources (underground and surface) and the population's essential needs from these resources.
  • Analysis: data collection was followed by its analysis and a comparison of the data in order to select the most reliable data. The documentary analysis was made in three parts: climate data, agro-sylvo-pastoral data and socio-economic data. After documentation analysis, information collected during the general meetings held in villages, was also analyzed.
  • Starting from a baseline situation (the reference climate scenario) the average of the main climate parameters (temperature, rainfall, wind speed, etc.) over the period 1971 to 2000 were determined. The main elements for characterizing water resources (underground and surface) available in the three sites were determined. Then, an assessment of water requirements for the various socio-economic activities (agriculture, livestock, handicrafts, market-gardening, etc.) was carried out in the three sites. Finally, the comparison of each use of the available and potential water (underground and surface) and demands for meeting the main socio-economic requirements, suggested whether the existing potential supply met all the requirements and if yes, with what limitations.
  • This same approach was used in the case of a climate change scenario where the main meteorological parameters concerning the three sites stem from a climate change model built for Mali. This analysis allows for determining for this temporal horizon, and the impacts of the climate change scenario on water resources in the three sites.
  • Finally, the knowledge of the potential impacts of climate change will allow for formulating the most appropriate adaptation options for each site in the field of water resources.

Case Study 2

The methodological approach can be summarized as follows:

Bibliographical study 

  • Documenting the climate scenario envisaged for Mali and predicting the impacts on water resources in the study zone;
  • Collecting of water resource management both in Mali and worldwide; and
  • Gathering relevant socio-economic data as well as the costs of existing technology.

Site visits and surveys

  • Site visits were carried out in order to obtain a better knowledge of the physical and human environments in the study zones. Data collection took the form of interviews or discussions in groups or general assembly meetings with the population, local authorities and development organizations operating in each zone. 
  • Water requirements analysis, assessment of their potential, and resource management simulation 
  • Water requirements were assessed from the data collected in the field and their management according to the expected climate changes was the subject of simulation with the WEAP
  • Analysis of technology offers, definition of selection criteria and proposal for appropriate technology for the study zones 
  • By taking account of the economic conditions and the possibility of ownership of this technology by the communities, it was possible to propose new technology suitable for the environment as well as a methodology for the transfer of the technology.

Results and Impacts

Major findings from each of the two case studies can be found by following the links below.

For the first case study analysis revealed that current water availability is not sufficient for community needs, and that this situation will be exacerbated by climate change and an increase in water demand. Measures are required to improve both quantity and quality of supply. Key findings from the Mali Case Study 1: 'The Study of Ultimate Users of Water Resources and Dialogue with Communities.'

For the second part of the study the need for the transfer and uptake of appropriate water harvesting distribution techniques was identified. Key findings from the Mali Case Study 2: 'The Identification and Selection of Appropriate Water Resource Management Technologies.'

Lessons Learnt


An analysis of water resource availability, its evolution, and the demand from all sectors, confirmed the existence of a supply higher than demand. Nonetheless, deficits essentially related to mobilization, water-raising and management were observed on all the sites. These deficits, despite the risks of their increase related to climate change, can be reduced, and even made up through the actions below:

• Joint use of surface and underground water. In fact, the static levels of underground water (lower than 20m in Kiban and Massabla) allow for using them for household purposes, for supplying livestock with drinking water etc. whilst surface water can be used for market-gardening;

  • A wide dissemination of low cost technologies (harvesting, pumping, distribution);
  • A wide distribution of water and soil conservation technologies (ridge farming, organic manure, agro-forestry);
  • The use of water resources planning, prediction and management tools such as the WEAP; and
  • The strengthening of agro-meteorological assistance to the rural world, considered today a fundamental element of the strategy for adaptation to climate change in Mali, should in the long run contribute to a better utilization of water resources.


The identification and selection of appropriate water resource management technology raises the issue of adaptation (at the technical and financial level) to this technology hence the need for the study on the elaboration of strategies for adaptation to climate change.