Today, the processes of decentralization and democratization are fundamental aspects of sustainable human development in Mali, and have a considerable impact on all strategies and policies involved in agricultural development. The role and responsibilities of the state are limited to missions of protection and of public administration. Most activities related to economic management and development programs have been transferred to civil society and local populations. The aims of the new Plan for Rural Land Development are to encourage greater flexibility and to make the related strategies and policies more consistent. Of particular interest are the following: · National environmental protection policy · Strategy for poverty reduction and accelerated growth · National strategy for irrigation development The institutions responsible for implementing these policies are handicapped by lack of skilled and experienced personnel, uncertainty, and financial constraints. All of these problems must be urgently dealt with. Inappropriate land law and weakened traditional management regimes also make it particularly difficult to solve the numerous land conflicts that arise. This problem poses a significant threat to attempts to establish sustainable natural resource management and land tenure security in irrigated areas. The authors assess these problems and recommend strategies for addressing them.