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Mali water privatisation, Mali


Mali s rocky ride with water privatization experimentation began in 2000, but lasted only five years when the company, SAUR International, withdrew from the management contract, apparently under pressure from the Malian government due to unhappiness over failure by the company to fulfill contractual obligations. The experiment followed pressure from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund which saw the semi-public Electricite de Mali (EdM) privatized in a 20-year management contract. Renamed Energie du Mali (EDM SA), ownership saw 40% going to the State of Mali, 39% to French company SAUR International and 21% to the Aga Khan fund[1]. The contract intended to improve access, as well as technical and financial performance. The main client basis of EDM is the capital of the Republic of Mali, with the largest population, Bamako. The city had about 1,500,000 inhabitants, or about 11% of the total population of Mali[5]. EDM was regarded as key to increased access to piped water as 40% of the population relied on stand pipes. But water fees increased and so did debt because people could not afford to pay. This in turn led to defaults. Once the contract imploded, the new ownership structure saw EDM SA split 66%/34% between the state of Mali and the Aga Khan Fund respectively. The issue is not over because government officials have indicated they are not closed to leasing contracts with international partners in order to develop the water sector[1]. In 2008, an attempt to privatise water services in Lere, northwestern Mali, led to protests. One person was killed and five injured[4]. Driven by the Washington Consensus, Mali s privatisation was meant to champion how public private partnerships could work in poor countries, but its failure led to much introspection.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Mali water privatisation, Mali
Accuracy of locationLOW (Country level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Water Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Water access rights and entitlements
Water treatment and access to sanitation (access to sewage)
Specific commodities:Water
Project Details and Actors
Project details

When the contract ended, 60% of the population had access to basic water services. This represented about a 5% increase in the nearly five years of the contract, according to a study assessing the economic foundations of SAURs involvement. The study found that total water supplied and sold rose from 30.1 million m3 in 2001 to 43.2 in 2004, an increase of about 43%. About 50% of sold water went to residential customers, 40% to industry and 10% to public fountains (it is speculated that these supplied poor households who could not afford to be connected). Real revenues increased by more than 38% between 2001 and 2004, but 60% of this came from industry and 35% from residential customers[5]. With 95% of revenue coming from these sources, it is clear that there was no financial incentive to increase access to Mali s poor.

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Type of populationUrban
Start of the conflict:2000
Company names or state enterprises:SAUR International from France
Groupe Boygues from France
Electricite de Mali (EdM) from Mali
Relevant government actors:Ministry of Energy, Mines and Water, Ministry of Environment, Agency for Water Supply and Sanitation, Regulatory Commission of Water and Energy, National Directorate for Sanitation and Environmental Nuisance Control
International and Finance InstitutionsThe World Bank (WB) from United States of America
International Monetary Fund (FMI)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Mali s Committee of Water Defence (CMDE), CAD Mali
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Social movements
Trade unions
Local scientists/professionals
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsPotential: Infectious diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Specific impacts on women
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Project cancelled
Proposal and development of alternatives:A World Development Movement report argues that through free water supply for the poorest, participatory budgeting, progressive tariff structures and cross-subsidies, reducing leakage rates and improving efficiency, it is possible
to make public systems work[3].
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Even though the experiment with large scale private investment proved not to be the panacea for water provision, and there are some indications that water access and sanitation has improved since 1990, access to water and sanitation in Mali remain problematic.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

The 2002 Water Code (Law No. 02-006)

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[1] Water Remunicipalisation Tracker (2008). Mali. Available at:
[click to view]

[2] USAID (2010). Mali: Water and Sanitation Profile. Available at: Accessed 2 February 2013.
[click to view]

[3] World Development Movement (2006). Pipe dreams: The failure of the private sector to invest

[4] AFP (2008). Mali: One dead, five hurt in anti-water privatisation protest. Available at: Accessed 2 February 2012.
[click to view]

[5] Estache, Antonio and Grifell-Tatj, Emili (2011). Assessing the Impact of Malis Water Privatization across Stakeholders. Available at: Accessed 3 February 2013.
[click to view]

Accessed 2 February 2013.

in water services in developing countries. Available at: Accessed 2 February 2013.
[click to view]

Accessed 2 February 2012.

AFP (2008). Mali: One dead, five hurt in anti-water privatisation protest. Available at:
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Remunicipalisation: Putting Water Back into Public Hands (subtítulos en español)
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Patrick Burnett
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:174
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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