How buildOn Communities Endure Political Instability: Mali

How buildOn Communities Endure Political Instability: Mali

In our last blog post, we discussed how buildOn communities in Haiti are overcoming the many challenges that have arisen as a result of continuous political turmoil over the past few years. That post is part of a series of blog posts where we’re highlighting how buildOn communities are dealing with unrest. Read on to learn about the issues facing another buildOn country–Mali–and how students, staff, and communities are continuing to do incredible work in the face of tremendous difficulties.


Mali has been in a state of crisis since 2012, when a rebellion in the north of the country led to a coup d’état. The government has since been battling a number of insurgent groups, a conflict which has spilled over into neighboring countries.

In May 2021, the military staged a coup against the civilian government. The military junta has promised to hold elections within two years, but has faced harsh criticism for its slow progress in restoring democracy. However, based on information from the field and official government records, the situation is improving. 

In the middle of over ten years of unrest, education and economic development have taken a back seat––and it shows. Today, 65% of Malians over the age of 15 are illiterate and half of the country’s population lives on less than $1.90 a day. Mali ranks 184th out of 189 countries on the UN Human Development Index.

Because of the military coup, the country’s inflation rate is extremely high–and that’s in addition to the high inflation rates that are being felt across the globe. This has made everything more expensive for buildOn, from construction materials, to transportation, to hiring staff. However, perseverance is in buildOn’s DNA, so we never gave up! We adjusted and continued our work, since it is needed now more than ever. 

In the face of all of this turmoil, buildOn continues to promote education in Mali. Though the area we work in in Mali is far from the main areas of conflict in the country, our team is taking every necessary precaution to stay safe. They avoid traveling at night, too early in the morning, or too late in the evening, and keep a low profile to avoid being noticed or targeted.

When they are present in an area, they always inform the government and the mayors’ office that they are there. They closely monitor security updates nationally and locally to take necessary measures, such as avoiding areas where there are security risks. The safety of our team, our partners, and our programs is absolutely paramount.

Thankfully, we have been able to carry out our work as planned this year. We’ve built 34 schools in 2023 and are getting ready to break ground on 21 more before the end of the year. Both our Enroll and Adult Literacy Programs are also going as planned.

In the two decades since we began work in the country, we’ve built 465 schools. Despite the danger and instability in the country, we’ve been able to improve thousands of lives. More than 55,000 students attend buildOn schools in Mali! 

Bit by bit, villages across Mali are transforming their communities through education––a transformation that will hopefully lead to lasting peace and prosperity.

Visit our blog next week to hear how our team in Burkina Faso is also making an impact in the face of political instability.

To help promote school building and access to education in places that need it most, please consider making a gift to support both buildOn’s U.S. and global programs.