Political crisis, armed conflict, and drought have shaped Mali’s recent history. Following a devastating drought in 2011, food insecurity affected almost one-third of the population. In 2012, a military coup deposed President Toure, and Tuareg rebels and Islamist rebel groups fought the government for land and control in the northern region of Azawad. Islamists ultimately wrested control of the region, and began enforcing their interpretation of Islamic Law.
Four hundred thousand people fled Northern Mali. About half sought refuge in the neighboring countries of Burkina Faso, Niger, and Mauritania; the rest moved to other parts of Mali.
By February 2013, government-backed troops had regained control of the region, and in June 2013 the government and the Tuareg nationalists signed a peace agreement.
The Government of Mali is now working to restore stability to the country and rebuild a battered economy. Agriculture and land governance are important to this process.
Mali is one of the poorest countries in the world, and less than four percent of its land is arable—all of it concentrated in the fertile Niger River Valley. But a lack of irrigation, and increasingly erratic rainfall, constrain Mali’s agriculture. In addition, mounting competition for land and natural resources fuels conflict.