You are here

CRS in Mali

Ranked 179 out of 188 countries within UNDP’s Human Development Index, Mali is a land-locked country in the Sahel where more than half the population lives on less than $1.25 a day. The country is challenged by natural disasters, a quickly growing population with a median age of 16, and persistent insecurity sparking continued displacement in the north. Having worked in the country since 1999, CRS serves the poor and vulnerable through coordinating complex and multi-sectoral emergency and development programs across nearly all regions. Placing partnership at the core of its programming, the country program works with over 12 partners including government departments and local NGOs.

Students at Diarrabougou School in Mali receive a free school lunch each day through Catholic Relief Services' Jigiya program, also known as Food for Education.
Students at Diarrabougou School in Mali receive a free school lunch each day through Catholic Relief Services' Jigiya program, also known as Food for Education. Photo by Michael Stulman/CRS

CRS Mali’s Food for Education Program, its largest and longest-running program since 2007, has expanded from school feeding to incorporate quality literacy instruction and capacity building for School Management Committees. The second phase of the program successfully increased female attendance by 18%. Learn more by watching the CRS Mali video in English or in French.  

The Emergency Department leads multiple, often simultaneous responses to natural and conflict-related disasters including the year-long IHA Project which restores families’ access to safe, drinking water in Timbuktu where there is a concentration of returned refugees. CRS Mali’s emergency rapid response mechanism conducts needs assessments immediately following disasters and shares information with humanitarian actors on the Kisili Project Website to prompt coordinated, lifesaving responses. The efficiency of all CRS Mali projects, and emergency programming in particular, is aided by the agency’s expertise in Information Communication and Technology for Development (ICT4D). Emergency victims in Mali have received over $2 million in direct support from CRS to address their unique needs through the use of iPads, barcoded ID cards, and mobile money transfers.    

CRS also supports a robust health portfolio in Mali, both as the principal recipient for the Global Fund – Tuberculosis in Mali since 2012 and as the implementing agency in Mali on the ACCESS-SMC Project which provides malarial prevention medication for over 1.22 million children under age five. CRS’ Djomi Project funded by the Centers for Disease Control, strengthens the Malian health system’s ability to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease outbreaks, prevent cross-border epidemics and mitigate public health epidemics of international concern. This project is the result of CRS’ successful response to the 2015 Ebola epidemic, which also affected Mali.   

CRS has reached over 24,000 farmers through its role on several USAID Feed the Future projects in Mali. The agency also works with international research institutes to strengthen the capacity of farmers and government agents by introducing new technologies, crop varieties and techniques suited to Mali’s dry conditions. In 2015, farmers participating in the ARDT-SMS Project experienced a 69% average rise in sorghum production, reducing the poverty of individual families as well as food insecurity in the region. In addition, CRS works in northern Mali to help the population most affected by the recent insecurity improve their resilience against climate change and other shocks and stresses, through SUR1M (Scaling Up Resilience for 1 Million People in the Niger River Basin) and Lafia, a livelihoods and nutrition-focused project, funded by UKAid and the European Union, respectively.     


People served: 8,078,706

Population: 16,955,536 (July 2015 est.)

Size: 478,841 sq. mi.; slightly less than twice the size of Texas

CRS' History in Mali

Since 1999, CRS Mali has run development programs that build resilience in rural areas. After rebel incursions in northern Mali in late 2011, CRS began serving displaced persons with emergency assistance. In March 2012, a coup and rebel occupation caused massive population displacement toward the south. This was preceded by drought in 2011, and followed by large-scale flooding in 2012. In 2013, the Malian government, with Economic Community of West African States, United Nations and donor support, retook the north, though sporadic attacks continue. The reopening of the north and democratic presidential elections in August 2013 ushered in new possibilities for disaster recovery, rebuilding, and development. 

The CRS Mali Headquarters is located in the capital city of Bamako. Sub-offices in Mopti, Gao, and Timbuktu support the agency in quickly serving communities where the greatest needs exist. The Timbuktu Office opened in October 2016 to address the needs of returned refugees, internally displaced people and host families in a region suffering from malnutrition, severe drought, and the presence of armed groups.