Situated at the junction of the Bani and Niger rivers, the city of Mopti in Central Mali has developed over the past one hundred years from a modest settlement into an important urban and administrative centre that reaches out to both the north and east of the country. In addition to its access to river traffic, the city is also well connected to Mali’s road network. A twelve-kilometre causeway across an area of seasonally flooded agricultural land, which was constructed during the French colonial period, links Mopti with the national road network. More recently an international airport was added, which receives a fair number of foreign tourists whose main destinations are principally the Pays Dogon and the nearby historic city of Djenné.
Mopti’s strategic location at the confluence of two major rivers has also become its major constraint to further development. During the months of November to February, when the waters of the Niger and Bani are at their highest levels, the city becomes a virtual island with only the causeway as its connection to firm ground. Mopti’s population, currently estimated at more than 125,000, is squeezed during this period into an area of not more than 2.5 square kilometres. Not surprisingly, a parallel city has developed over the years at Sévaré, at the other end of the causeway, where there are no restrictions to growth.
As a result of population pressure and overall low levels of development, living conditions in Mopti, particularly in the areas around the harbour and in the adjacent districts of Komoguel and Gangal, have steeply declined over the past decades. Water and sanitation are in a very poor state, a situation that is being aggravated by the absence of a proper system for waste collection and by unpaved streets with open sewers.
The major objective of the intervention of the Historic Cities Programme (HCP) in Komoguel is to improve existing living standards in a limited geographical area of Mopti by focusing on improved health and sanitation conditions. In order to achieve this, a series of limited interventions aimed at improving existing sanitation conditions in an area confined to the immediate surroundings of the Great Mosque of Mopti have been implemented since June 2006.
Jodido, Philip, ed. 2011. "Case Studies: Mali" In The Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme: Strategies for Urban Regeneration. Munich: Prestel, 72-109.
The notion of culture as an asset rather than as a drain on resources is still a new concept in many parts of the world. Culture is considered a luxury in an era of unmet social and economic needs. The sad result is that both tangible and intangible cultures are succumbing to decay or decline. The Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme has shown how culture can be a catalyst for development in even the poorest and most remote areas of the globe. From Afghanistan to Zanzibar, from India to Mali, the Programme’s support to communities demonstrates how conservation of cultural heritage, coupled with urban regeneration efforts, can provide a springboard for social and economic development. This publication highlights, through case studies, drawings and images, the work of the Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme over the past 20 years.