Millennium Challenge Account irrigation projects, Mali


The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is a US government program that provides overseas assistance to countries that meet specific criteria. In Mali, the MCC pursued and financed a project on over 20,000 ha in the Office du Niger to convert land mainly used for pastoralists to irrigated intensive farmland. The program trained headers to farm, introduced high-value crops, and built schools and wells. In the first phase the project resettled 33 villages (mostly of Fulani ethnicity) to make space for the new croplands. Each resettled family received a title to 5 ha of irrigated land (three of which were to be 'bought' from the MCA), new housing, and improved access to fresh water. In the second phase the project divided 5,000 ha into 10 ha parcels, and in the third and final phase, an additional 5,000 ha were partitioned into 30 ha plots and thirty plots of more than 30 ha. The titles for the largest landholdings were not limited to Malian citizens. SEXAGON, the local farmers' union, claims villagers were not consulted before their land was sold to MCC, and is opposed to the project of intense farming in the traditionally pastoralist region. The project was scheduled to conclude in September of 2012, but following a military coup in Mali the project contract was terminated in August of 2012. At the time of termination half of the 80km road, land allocation contracts, and resettlement aspects of the project remained incomplete. In 2008 the irrigation scheme was restructured from 14,000 ha to 5,200 ha.

Basic Data
NameMillennium Challenge Account irrigation projects, Mali
ProvinceSégou province
SiteKouroumari district: Diabaly and Dogofry
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Water access rights and entitlements
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific CommoditiesCereals
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe project entailed an upgrade of a road, an expansion of the existing irrigation system to 484 km, and distribution of land titles.

Each resettled family is compensated 5 ha, 2 of which are free and 3 are to be paid over a 20-year period. 235 million dollars were to be spent on the irrigation aspect of the project, and the remaining 181 million on a renovating the airport to facilitate an increase in freight (and passenger) transportation volume. The project was over budget at termination ($252,898,171).
Project Area (in hectares)22,440
Level of Investment (in USD)461,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population6,730
Start Date17/09/2007
Company Names or State EnterprisesMillennium Challenge Corporation
ACDI/VOCA from United States of America
G-FORCE from Mali
Nyeta Conseils from Mali
Relevant government actorsUS government
International and Financial InstitutionsWorld Food Program (WFP)
Alliance for a Green Revolution for Africa
Inter-American Development Bank (IADB)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersSyndicat des Exploitants Agricoles de l’Office du Nige (SEXAGON) (Malian farmer’s organization), GRAIN
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingInternational ejos
Trade unions
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseProject temporarily suspended
The company simply terminated the contract and withdrew.
Development of AlternativesSexagon: a system based on long-term leases – each family would get around 3 ha. Sexagon also pushes for stopping the development of the land market in this region.
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.Worse than completion is semi-completion. The road is halfway finished and only part of the land titles to be distributed are in the hands of local farmers. The projects status is unknown.
Sources and Materials

Millennium Challenge Corporation, 2012, 'Alatona Irrigation Project'
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GRAIN, 2010, 'The US's Millennium Challenge Corporation'
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, 'Alatona Irrigation Project'
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ACDI/VOCA, 'Mali- Agriculture Development Systems Activity'
[click to view]

Millennium Challenge Corporation, 'on halting operations in Mali'
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Millennium Challenge Corporation, 'Mali Compact'
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[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorAliza Tuttle
Last update17/10/2014