Mali's GNP per head, converted to U.S. dollars by using exchange rates , was US$250 in 1998. The purchasing power parity (PPP) method of conversion to U.S. dollars (which makes allowance for the low price of many basic commodities and services in Mali), put the level of the GNP per head at US$720. The CIA World Factbook estimated the GDP per capita at PPP at US$820 in 1999. All these measures place Mali among the poorest countries in the world.
In the period 1989-98, it was estimated that 73 percent of the population were below the US$1 per day poverty line—this is the second most severe incidence of poverty among the 174 countries for which data have been collected by the United Nations (UN). The Human
|Distribution of Income or Consumption by Percentage Share: Mali|
|Survey year: 1994|
|Note: This information refers to expenditure shares by percentiles of the population and is ranked by per capita expenditure.|
|SOURCE: 2000 World Development Indicators [CD-ROM].|
|Household Consumption in PPP Terms|
|Country||All food||Clothing and footwear||Fuel and power a||Health care b||Education b||Transport & Communications||Other|
|Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.|
|a Excludes energy used for transport.|
|b Includes government and private expenditures.|
|SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.|
Development Index developed by the UN, combines income per head (using the PPP method), education, and health (as indicated by life expectancy). Mali ranks 165 out of 174 countries, firmly in the low human development category.
For most people in the rural areas, who herd family cattle or work small family farms, living conditions are barely subsistence level. Houses are made of wood frames with mud walls and hard earth floors. Their diet consists primarily of cooked cereals and milk, and is essentially meatless. They wear secondhand clothes which originate in Europe and are shipped to local markets. Water comes from wells; cooking is done over wood fires; lighting is from small kerosene wick lamps; and sanitation is provided by pit latrines. Children are unlikely to go to school, and there are no local health centers.
In the towns, for those with employment, conditions tend to be better. Lower middle-class individuals live in cement block, tin-roofed houses with concrete floors. There is electricity and water some of the time, and schools and dispensaries are nearby. The poor live in slums where their shelter is made of throw-away bits of cloth, cardboard, or plastic. They use pit latrines and communal water taps. In the city the poor may have better access to medical care and schools for their children, but these services are in high demand and may cost too much for poor people to use.