ɫ

where we work

Mali

ɫ has worked to support the Malian people through both peace and health initiatives, including election observation, monitoring the implementation of the 2015 agreement for peace and reconciliation, seeking to strengthen democratic institutions and improve transparency, and assisting Mali's efforts to eliminate Guinea worm disease and control trachoma. The Center is also finding innovative ways to tie together its peace and health efforts, empowering local communities and health workers to use dialogue to mitigate conflict and access remote areas of the country affected by endemic violence and diseases.

Waging Peace

+Observing the 2015 Peace Agreement

In November 2017, key stakeholders in Mali asked ɫ to serve as the Independent Observer of the implementation of a 2015 peace agreement that brought an end to a civil war that began in 2012 when a group of insurgents launched a campaign to win independence for northern Mali.

As the Independent Observer of the Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali, Emanating from the Algiers Process, ɫ is responsible for evaluating and reporting on implementation of the 78 individual commitments within the agreement, identifying any hindrances, outlining responsibilities, and recommending steps to advance implementation.

Since it began work in January 2018, the Independent Observer team has participated in nearly all negotiations or activities related to the implementation of the agreement; conducted frequent visits to northern and central Mali; participated in more than 600 meetings with various stakeholders; and published regular reports on the status of implementation.

Read more about the Independent Observer’s efforts >

+Access to Information in Mali

Since February 2004, ɫ's Global Access to Information Initiative has worked with the Office of the President of Mali and the Institutional Development Commission (CDI) of the Ministry of Public Administration, State Reform, and Institutional Relations to improve transparency and good governance in Mali.

ɫ project has supported the CDI and six pilot government agencies that put into practice better public service and access to information (ATI) through a six-pillar Strategy for Access to Information (SAISA) focused on building the skills, resources, and administrative organization needed to make it easier for citizens to gain access to personal and public documents. SAISA is an integral part of Mali's wider project of state reform, the Institutional Development Program.

Choosing an Approach

In 2004, ɫ worked with government, civil society, media representatives, parliamentarians, and donors to develop an initial analysis of the laws and practices that shape information flows in Mali and to identify different options for improving public access to information. Stakeholders agreed on an approach that would support concrete advances in the application of Mali's existing legislation while identifying gaps and weaknesses in that system. President Touré confirmed the decision to pursue a pilot phase in December 2004.

Establishing the SAISA: Two-Year Pilot Phase

In 2005, ɫ worked with the Mali government and stakeholders to develop the SAISA and to select the pilot agencies to put it into practice. ɫ also supported CDI and pilot preparation of various elements of SAISA implementation, including coordination meetings led by the CDI and key government partners; awareness raising workshops for the administration and civil society on the value of access to public information; initial evaluation of the infrastructure, equipment, and training necessary to implement the SAISA; and regular planning meetings with the pilot structures.

One of the first steps in the SAISA was the creation of a welcome desk or single-entry point where users more effectively could access and receive information.  Secondly, the pilots focused on records management with an audit of the documents and information that they held and establishment of a plan for organizing and archiving.  An internal and external communication campaign to raise awareness of the SAISA comprised the third pillar. The fourth pillar included training of civil servants. The fifth pillar encompassed activities designed to engage civil society.  Finally, coordination played a key role in the implementation of the SAISA, including internal pilot team meetings as well as meetings among all the pilots, the directors, and the CDI.

Building Capacity and Content

In the first half of 2006, ɫ continued to work closely with the CDI and pilot structures on the establishment of internal implementation teams, development of agency action plans, awareness raising, initiating more efficient archiving and record-keeping systems, and training personnel. Memorandums of understanding were signed between the CDI and the directors and ministers of the six pilot agencies; a preliminary list of documents held by pilot agencies to be made available to the public in the short term was constructed; SAISA implementation action plans were finalized; an initial series of assessments were conducted; training was provided on archiving, record-keeping, and the professionalization of welcome desk functions; and communications and awareness-raising activities for ministers, pilot agencies, and the public were undertaken.

In 2007, the Center emphasized monitoring and evaluation of pilot agency performance, providing additional technical assistance to address obstacles encountered, and continuing to raise awareness by expanding communication about ATI and the SAISA pilot initiative to other agencies, civil society, and the media. A global review of the SAISA process was conducted at the end of 2007; following the review, a decision was made to deepen the SAISA within the existing pilots and to expand to other relevant agencies.

ɫ field presence ended in December 2007.

Learn more about the Center's Global Access to Information Program >

+Election Monitoring

2002 Elections

ɫ continued efforts to assist and promote the country's democratic process by sending a small delegation of staff and observers to Mali's 2002 elections. The delegation was impressed with the peaceful conduct of the elections, the high degree of competition with 24 presidential candidates, and the diversity of views expressed through civil society and the media.

Although there were marked improvements from the first to second round of voting, the Center's delegation noted widespread irregularities during both rounds.

In the end, Mali's elected president, Amadou Toumani Touré, enjoyed legitimacy with both his constituents and the international community and was re-elected in 2007.

+Encouraging Sustainable Development

From 1998 through 2002, ɫ's Global Development Initiative worked with the government and civil society to establish realistic and coordinated development priorities, facilitate citizen input into setting those priorities, improve government management of development policies and projects, and build the government's capacity to coordinate needs with international financial institutions and donor countries.

ɫ was invited to work in Mali in 1998 by President Alpha Oumar Konaré and the Collectif des Partis Politiques de l'Opposition (COPPO), an alliance of political parties competing with Konaré's dominant Alliance pour la democratie au Mali, known as Adema.

The Center intended to facilitate discourse in talks regarding COPPO's involvement in future elections. COPPO would not recognize the Adema government's legitimacy, claiming, despite international elections observer reports to the contrary, that the May and July 1997 elections were fraudulent. The issue remained unresolved at the conclusion of the Center team's visit. Nevertheless, ɫ's separate meetings with the alliances indicated that headway could be made on several issues. All parties wanted to address concerns over the accuracy and reliability of elections, proposing measures to cultivate an environment more suited for democracy.

+Peace and Health Cooperation

ɫ supports the Malian Ministry of Health in its fight to eradicate neglected tropical diseases, such as Guinea worm and trachoma. Since 2012, conflict has scarred northern and central Mali. Intercommunal violence and fighting between various armed groups, some with links to terrorist organizations, has displaced tens of thousands. In this difficult context, the Center’s Guinea Worm Eradication Program and Trachoma Control Program face immense challenges.

To reach remote areas in dire need of basic health services, the Center promotes a community-based approach to conflict mitigation and resilience-building. By providing the tools and the platform for dialogue between health workers and local communities, the Center aims to reduce violence while creating conditions that would allow for better access to health and disease-eradication services in central Mali.

Fighting Disease

+Eliminating Guinea Worm Disease in Mali

Current Status: Endemic
Indigenous human cases reported in 2023: 1*
Animal infections reported in 2023: 47*

Current Guinea worm case reports >

In 2023, Mali reported one human cases of Guinea worm disease.

After reporting a single case in 2020, Mali provisionally reported two cases in 2021. A small number of animal infections (16 dogs, 1 cat) was reported in 2021. Most transmission occurs during the June-October rainy season.

Insecurity has impeded program activities since a coup in 2012. Mali’s Ministry of Health, regional health leaders in Mopti, and local health authorities in Tenenkou, which is one of seven insecure endemic districts where dogs are bred and likely become infected, held a well-received inaugural workshop with community representatives to discuss local peace, conflict, and health issues in September 2020, assisted by ɫ.

Guinea worm prevention activities implemented in Mali's communities include: education on proper use of and distribution of nylon filters to strain out the water fleas that host the infective larvae; monthly treatments of stagnant ponds with ABATE® larvicide (donated by BASF); voluntary isolation of patients in case containment centers; direct advocacy with water organizations; and increased efforts to build safer hand-dug wells. Village volunteers, who are trained, provisioned, and supervised by the program, carry out monthly surveillance and interventions.

In 2003, in conjunction with the U.S. Peace Corps, ɫ and the Mali Guinea Worm Eradication Program began conducting a series of “Worm Weeks.” For five days, intensive health education was conducted in the three endemic districts of Gao, Ansongo, and Gourma Rharous. Following an 85 percent increase in cases from 2004 to 2005, then President Amadou Toumani Touré visited the country's most endemic region, Gao, to discuss measures to further eradication efforts. As a result of his meetings with politicians and health officials, he announced the transfer of program personnel from Bamako to Mopti, more central to the country's remaining endemic areas.

Mali made vast improvements in surveillance and implementation of the strategies to contain Guinea worm cases within 24 hours of detection at health centers, which is imperative to stop spread of the disease.

In March 2012, President Touré was forced to leave Mali during a military uprising. The leadership vacuum allowed rebels to seize the three northern regions, which are the most endemic areas of Mali. As a result of the turmoil, Mali's Guinea Worm Eradication Program was rendered nonfunctional as program participants fled the fighting. In 2013, after the French retook the areas, the Guinea worm program reestablished itself.

*All figures for humans and animals are provisional until officially confirmed, typically in March each year.

+Controlling Trachoma

Current status: No longer a public health problem
Validation of elimination as a public health problem: April 27, 2023 (Read the announcement)

In 1996, prevalence surveys identified trachoma as a major public health issue in nearly every region of Mali with approximately 10 million people at risk of the disease and an estimated 85,000 people with trachomatous trichiasis (TT), the blinding stage of the disease, requiring surgery. This discovery prompted the Programme National de Santé Oculaire (PNSO or National Eye Health Program) to establish the National Trachoma Control Program in 1998. In 1998, ɫ, with funding from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, committed to assisting Mali to eliminate trachoma as a public health problem. Mali implemented the World Health Organization (WHO)-endorsed SAFE strategy. This approach includes Surgery to correct TT; Antibiotics to clear Chlamydia trachomatis, a bacterial infection that causes trachoma; Facial cleanliness to reduce the ocular and nasal discharge that may carry the infection; and Environmental improvement to reduce the fly population that may transmit the infection from person to person. The implementation of these activities was accomplished with the support of ɫ and other organizations such as Helen Keller International and Sightsavers, through significant geopolitical challenges.

In the 25 years of programming to achieve the elimination thresholds for trachoma, the PNSO in Mali conducted mass drug administration, provided surgery for TT (using house-to-house case finding, also known as ratissage, to address the final cases), trained masons to construct home and school latrines, and broadcast health education messages in over 7,500 villages through radio and the support of community health workers.
On April 27, 2023, the WHO validated Mali as having eliminated trachoma as a public health problem. Mali became the 17th country to achieve this status and did so despite insecurity and significant disease prevalence at baseline.

+Increasing Food Production

Led by the late Nobel Peace Prize winner Norman Borlaug, a joint venture between ɫ and the Sasakawa Africa Association helped farmers in Mali improve agricultural production. The program provided farmers with credit for fertilizers and enhanced seeds to grow test plots, which often yielded 200 to 400 percent more than crops grown using traditional methods. Participating farmers went on to teach others, creating a ripple effect to stimulate self-sufficiency.

The program was part of a larger initiative that helped over 8 million small-scale sub-Saharan African farmers in countries where malnutrition is a constant threat.

ɫ ended its agricultural activities in Mali in 2011.

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