Drought, Food Insecurity and Early Warning in Mali
The principal causes of Mali’s food problem are low resource endowment and low standards of living, exacerbated by inter-annual climatic fluctuations, the long-term effects of successive dry years and macroeconomic stagnation. The country covers an area of 1 240 142 square kilometres, between latitudes 11° and 25°N, divided into five broad agro-ecological zones, defined according to annual rainfall levels. Rainfall is highest in the Sudanic-Guinean south of the country, averaging more than 800 mm a year. In the Sudanic zone, it averages 600–800 mm; in the Sahelian-Sudanic zone, 350–600 mm; in the Sahelian zone 200–350 mm; and above latitude 16°N in the Sahelian-Saharan zone, less than 200 mm (Map 1). The highly fluctuating rainfall (the uncertainty of which increases as one moves north), and in the Sahelian zone the flood levels of the River Niger and its tributaries, are the main determinants of food production.
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