The shift of Jihadist activism from the north towards the centre of Mali combined with the absence of state authority in parts of the Malian territory, the growing presence of self-defence groups, the struggle for natural resources and the economic downturn are some of the many factors which threw the centre of Mali, in particular the Mopti and Ségou regions, into crisis in 2015. In response to this, and with the support of the international community, the Malian Government is currently implementing a stabilisation plan which involves redeploying security forces and re-establishing public services in the centre of the country. Conscious of the fact that the success of its stabilisation plan is largely dependent on its capacity to engage with the communities concerned, the government has given HD a mandate to work as a neutral intermediary.
While the 2015 Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali officially put an end to the north-south conflict, multiple conflicts have since erupted in the central part of the country. The worsening security situation in the Mopti and Ségou regions has resulted in the growing withdrawal of government administration from a large part of the area. Caught in the middle, local communities have created self-defence groups and sealed alliances with local armed groups which either have jihadist aims or are affiliated to the government. Concerned about the possible outbreak of a new conflict in the area, the government has developed an ambitious security plan (the Plan de sécurisation intégrée des régions du Centre or PSIRC) which seeks to bring peace to the centre of Mali by re-establishing a state presence in the region.
In 2018, the Malian Government asked HD to intervene as a neutral intermediary with local communities in support of the implementation of its security plan. Based on its experience, HD recommended the establishment of a permanent dialogue mechanism between local communities and representatives of the Malian authorities on the redeployment of public services. The mechanism seeks to facilitate a series of negotiations on the methodology for this redeployment in order to respond to the priorities identified by communities, and to prevent their exposure to potential reprisals. In the mid to long term, the mechanism also seeks to offer a mediation space to resolve disputes between the Government and local citizens about the behaviour of public officials.
As part of this initiative, 180 leaders were identified to represent the interests of their communities in negotiations with the authorities. HD also gathered the perceptions of both the communities and the authorities on the issues surrounding the redeployment of public services in preparation for dialogue between them. Periodic meetings are now being organised to allow both local communities and state authorities to discuss their security concerns, priorities, objectives and constraints. These meetings also aim to develop a timeline for the consensual redeployment of public services as well as a mechanism for preventing and managing tensions between the communities and state authorities.
14 municipalities across seven administrative areas in Mali currently benefit from this initiative: Mopti, Djenne, Tenenkou, Youwarou and Koro in the Mopti region, as well as Macina and the outskirts of Pelengana in the Ségou region.
HD would like to thank the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa for its support for this project since 2018.