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Living in Mali?

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Matthew Brown

Living in Mali, from the UK

"As a development aid worker I am mostly busy near Timbouctou and Gao. InterNations helped me to exchange ideas with other development agencies."

Rikke Johansen

Living in Mali, from Denmark

"A friend recommended InterNations for my relocation to Mali. Glad I joined -- settling in Bamako was much easier with the help of fellow expats."

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Mali at a Glance

Living in Mali

Located in West Africa is the French-speaking nation of Mali, a country replete with unforgiving regions of desert, natural beauty and wonders of the human world for expats living in Mali to discover. Its capital Bamako is a vibrant urban landscape, alive with the sounds of Ngoni and Kora musicians.

Healthcare in Mali

The Malian healthcare system is faced with challenges deriving from rampant malnutrition of the population, lack of hygiene, and poor level of access to sanitation.

Mali is ranked as one of the world´s poorest nations; the majority of healthcare is provided via foreign aid in the form of international development organizations and foreign missionary groups.

Outside of Mali’s capital Bamako, medical facilities are sparse, and those that do exist often lack the relevant supplies of drugs as well as medical professionals to administer them.

In the 1990s it was reported that there were a mere five doctors per 100,000 inhabitants. Indeed, the shortage of health services is indicated in a 1999 report that found that only 36 per cent of Malians were within a five-kilometer radius of healthcare facilities. 

The knock-on effect of this shortage of healthcare is that myriad diseases are widespread and problematic. For example, malaria is widespread, along with other mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue fever, as well as diseases like hepatitis A, typhoid fever, meningitis and diarrhea. Additionally, food shortages have resulted in a large proportion of the population suffering from malnutrition. 

Expatriates thinking of travelling to Mali should ensure they get themselves vaccinated against Yellow Fever.

Safety and Security in Mali

Expatriates thinking of travelling around Mali should be mindful of the fact that armed militants and bandits have been known to rob and kidnap travelers in the northern parts of the country. This constitutes a risk to anyone travelling in the north, especially after sundown. 

Other dangers to expatriates journeying around Mali include the usage of landmines by militant groups operating in North and North East Mali. Transport dangers can also manifest themselves when travelling outside of the main urban areas; it is important to carefully consider and plan security arrangements if you intend to travel around the country. 

Expatriates are particularly vulnerable to scams by locals. Expats are advised to remain vigilant, especially if approached regarding requests for funds, job offers or business ventures by hitherto unknown individuals. 

In case of emergency, call 17 for police, 15 for medical services and 18 for fire department. 

Transportation in Mali

Before using any transportation in Mali, expatriates are advised to read all of the above information regarding safety and security. Following its hosting of the 2002 African Nations Cup soccer tournament, some improvements were made to the deficient transport infrastructure in Mali. 

Although Mali’s road network totals 18,563km, only 4,450km of that is paved. Therefore travelling on poorly maintained, unpaved roads can be particularly hazardous, especially at night. Poor road conditions in combination with the possibilities of banditry make travel by plane or boat more attractive options for expats. 

Regarding air transport, Mali’s main airport is located in the capital Bamako, from which one is able to fly into neighboring countries as well as Europe. 

There is a large river port in Koulikoro on the Niger River near Bamako. Much of the Niger River is navigable making some shipping possible. 

InterNations Expat Magazine