Lessons from peacebuilders in Mali

More than 1,600 people were killed in Mali in 2019, and attacks continued to be carried out by armed groups. But while attacks are rightfully grabbing the headlines, they are only part of a larger problem. While violence continues between Islamists and the Malian army, the majority of deaths and displacements are due to increasing violence on a local level. Responding to feelings of insecurity and state neglect, communities are setting up militias and self-defence groups.

While the spread of violence is concerning in Mali, our efforts focus on extending the reach and impact of peacebuilding work. In 2019, 1,026 people benefitted from local peacebuilding initiatives, made possible by grants given by Peace Direct and with financial support from the Canadian government. This number includes those receiving direct support and capacity building training to implement projects, as well as community members directly participating in projects.

We learn from our peacebuilding partners every day, and these are some of the lessons we can share from our work in Mali in 2019.

Peacebuilders are stronger together

We supported 20 projects in Mali in 2019, involving 40 organisations implementing a variety of work, including women's and youth leadership projects, conflict management and inter-community consultations. With intercommunal violence on the rise in Mali, bringing communities together to build trust and to reconcile differences is vital. The support we have provided have enabled clusters of organisations to come together to implement peacebuilding activities collaboratively.

“Because of the positive and far-reaching reputation of the project in the area, our association can carry out its activities in more places nearby.”

- Female leader, founder and president of the Wafakaye association in Ansongo (quote edited for clarity)

“With the publicity acquired through the execution of this project, our association can extend to the other communes in the circle to carry out its activities.”

- Anonymous project participant

Take the lead from female peacebuilders

In Sikasso, we supported a project which trained women to be community leaders in conflict prevention and management. The work was successful in reducing violence in the community.

“Without this project I would not know how to properly analyse conflicts and how to be a good mediator. Because of this project, there will be no more conflicts between the Fulani and Dogon in Kouro Barrage. We have been strengthened by this project. I have a feeling of satisfaction because through this project we met and talked about our problems without quarrel and with respect.”

- A consortium member in Koulikoro

Prioritise dialogue

The work we support is spreading the message that dialogue, not violence, is key to building safe and resilient communities.

“Since the training on land conflicts, we have realised that conflict must be resolved through dialogue, not violence...Generally, most of our conflicts are due to a lack of communication but especially to a lack of information, ignorance and the marginalisation of women in land management. After having lost the field that we had tended, I had a feeling of hatred towards the landowners, I wanted to recover the field by violence but thanks to this project, I understood that everything is not regulated by violence but often by dialogue. From now on, I will prioritise dialogue to settle conflicts within my family and in my community.”

- A consortium member in Sikasso.

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