Mali: Involving local stakeholders to improve the living conditions of people in northern regions (8 July 2015)

The French Embassy in Mali has implemented a programme to restore basic services and support the local economy in the Kidal region, in northern Mali. The programme began in early 2014 and is a tool for rapid intervention in areas classified as “red”, with very restricted access. Its national project management has involved local stakeholders to a great extent. The project is an experiment aimed at fuelling actions to guarantee the continuum between security and development.

The programme to finance micro-projects, implemented by the French Embassy’s cooperation and cultural action section (SCAC) in 2014 with the support of the military force, involved total funding of €1,167,000, of which 80% came from French funds and 20% was financed by the Malian budget. The Malian Local Authorities National Investment Agency (ANICT) was the contracting authority for this programme.

Financing micro-projects proposed by local people

The programme focussed on the Kidal region, choosing the four municipalities of Anefis, Kidal, Aguel Hoc and Tessalit. This region is the main travel route of the French Serval/Barkhane force and includes the major municipalities in the West of the region, which is the most populous and accessible.

The President of the Kidal Regional Council and the Serval force civilian-military cooperation (CIMIC) team carried out a large-scale campaign to identify and catalogue projects, organized by the town halls in each municipality. They gathered hundreds of projects proposed by local people, which were prioritised by the towns’ municipal councils.

Focus on sectors of education, water and income-generating activities

A first instalment funded 19 municipal projects aiming to restore or construct infrastructure, primarily in the sectors of education and water. Contracting was delegated to local companies and supervized by local consultancies monitoring the work.

A second instalment financed 81 projects proposed by individuals or groups for income-generating activities. The Kidal Regional Council – the project manager by delegation – and local Mayors signed specific agreements for each municipality. Local NGOs were responsible for monitoring progress through interim and final evaluation.

Implementation of quick-impact projects without intermediaries

Through flexible work arrangements, this programme avoided intermediaries and involved local stakeholders, drawing where necessary on the logistical capabilities of a military force on the ground. It successfully implemented quick-impact projects to improve people’s living conditions, in an area under constant terrorist threats and where military operations are ongoing.

This programme demonstrates the importance of a consensual approach, basing development support actions on the local social fabric by working with local and regional elected representatives who have remained in their jobs in crisis theatres. Local manpower and suppliers were given priority in order to create jobs and local income, ensuring maximum local ownership.

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This methodology has been adopted by the Agence française de développement (French Development Agency, AFD), with a budget of €6 million between 2015 and 2016.

In June 2015, a peace agreement was signed between the Government and the armed groups, demonstrating progress in the national reconciliation process and paving the way for the necessary socio-economic development of the regions of North Mali, which is a factor of peace and stability.

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