Update from Mali – actions louder than words

24/08/2015

What we’ve been doing…

Living Earth has been working with partners AMSS, International Alert and ARGA to support reconciliation and economic recovery in Timbuktu.    Our bottom-up approach focuses on supporting local community members to play a lead role in the peace-building and economic development processes that will shape their future.

Following a series of community meetings and conversations to identify priority concerns and challenges, we supported the development and delivery of 24 pilot projects designed to address drivers of conflict and priority socio-economic needs. These pilot projects have helped generate income amongst local community groups, in particular women’s groups (e.g. providing capital funds for women’s cooperatives, procurement of equipment for butter production to provide an added value income stream for farmers), whilst addressing root causes of conflict (e.g. bringing together different groups, providing economic opportunities for disaffected youth).

As noted by a women’s group in Lafia, “for you the project may be small, but for us it’s so big”.

 

“When you talk about reconciliation at the local level, the local population are not waiting to hear beautiful words – we want actions.  And this project has been able to bring us concrete actions”.

 

 Sharing our learning…

We’d like to share some of the key lessons that we’ve learned over the last few months, namely:

  • The central role that civil society leaders can, and should, play in analysing conflict at the local level and in using existing community mechanisms to address identified sources of conflict;
  • The importance of linking dialogue to action, supporting grassroots community actions, developed and implemented by diverse community groups, as a means of promoting social cohesion whilst addressing priority development and economic concerns (enabling communities to work together for a common future, rather than focusing on a divided past);
  • At the level of the international community in Bamako there seems to be, understandably, a growing sense of despondency regarding the peace process in Mali.  There is a real need for NGOs to share learning and to champion positive example of approaches which are working and which are having tangible impacts in terms of social cohesion and local development.

 

Next steps…

In July 2014, Living Earth and partners secured In July 2015, Living Earth and partners – International Alert, AMSS, ARGA – secured funding from the UK Government’s Conflict Stability and Security Fund to scale-up its work in the Timbuktu region, and to apply this methodology in another conflict-prone region in Mali, namely across the regions of Mopti and Segou.    We will be working to put the lessons that we’ve learned into action and to support more communities across Mali to take the lead in their country’s peace-building processes.

You can find out more about this new phase of the programme here.