materials, books, infrastructure, and laboratory equipment, as well as the poor organization o f the Koranic school system. Moreover, high-school and university scholarships are poorly and opaquely managed, often causing disruptive student strikes.
The G o M has adopted measures to transfer health and education responsibilities from
the central to the regional and local levels and i s inthe process o f establishing an appropriate resource transfer mechanism, which would require substantial capacity building, particularly at the regional and local levels. To be effective, the mechanism should foster greater consistency betweensectoral programs and local development plans as well as improvements
in local-level financial responsibility.
Gender. As described inthe poverty analysis inBox 2, the inadequate opportunities
for women inMalian society contribute to the high levels o f poverty and, accordingly, gender
issues are at the forefront o f Malian policy. In2002, the G o M adopted the Promotion o f Women, Children, and Family Policy and Action Plan for 2002-2006. The first part o f this document, which i s aligned with the PRSP, analyses health, education, the judicial system, economic opportunities, the environment, and institutional development interms o f gender, while proposing priority actions for improving the situation o f women. One o f the most important gender issues i s the higher HIV adult prevalence rate for women than for men (Table 3) which needs specific attention.
PRSP Pillar 3: Develop Basic Infrastructureand ProductiveSectors
Primary Productive Sectors. While the G o M has beenimplementing important
reforms for laying a solid framework for accelerated growth, M a l i suffers from a limited resource base and i t s economy i s poorly diversified, with production concentrated heavily in agriculture. Implementation o f agricultural policy i s guidedby the 2000-2010National Rural Development Master Plan as well as the 1999National Environmental Action Plan which were both integrated into the PRSP. A striking element o f Mali's economic performance over the last decade i s that remarkable strides have beenmade inrural development by an adequate combination o f policy reform, investment, technology improvements and strong donor coordination. Perhaps most important have beenthe comprehensive reforms inthe cotton sector which include the partial restructuring and the proposed privatization o f the national cotton company (CMDT, Compugnie Mulienne de De'veloppementdes Textiles)and its cottonseed oil subsidiary (HUICOMA, Huilerie CotonniBre du Mali). The details o f these reforms are described inBox 3. Another important success story has beenthe ongoing reforms o f the OJice du Niger that build on measures taken since the 1980s which have led to a six-fold rise inrice production (see Attachment 2 for more details).
A further identifiedgrowth area - livestock - i s being supported through the Pastoral
Charter, which i s currently under review by the National Assembly and which delineates rights and responsibilities for farmers and herders, particularly property rights and access to range resources and land use. To better tackle soil degradation, the G o M i s currently preparing the National Soil Fertility Management Plan. As water management i s key to rural development, the National Irrigation Strategy, prepared under the National Rural Infrastructure Program (PNIR), mainly concentrates on large irrigation, and pilot actions and operations are underway to expand small irrigation. There i s significant potential in agricultural diversification into fruits, vegetables and Arabic gum, development o f agri- business and transformation o f agricultural products (e.g. textiles). Other potential sources o f