Oxfam in West Africa
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Mali: hope despite the crisis

April 22nd, 2014 Posted in English, Mali

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A country rich in promise: this is how I have always thought of Mali. Now, the fighting in the north of the country is disrupting everything. Political instability has reigned for the past two years in the country. Just before I left for Mali, I heard the news: the Malian government is leaving…

On the first day of my trip, I went from the scorching capital of Bamako to the neighbouring village of Koulikoro. On the way, I was once again struck by the beauty of the people, in such contrast to their surroundings. Everywhere there were plastic bags discarded by the small village shops and market stalls. Mali is one of the poorest countries in the world.

Official spending

“Hygiene is one of our biggest problems”, explained the mayor of Koulikoro, Youssouf Tradde who greeted us warmly, surrounded by the other members of the local authorities. Mayor Tradde, works in close collaboration with the Budget Monitoring Group (GSB), one of the partners with whom we have been collaborating for a number of years. The citizens, local authorities and social organisations ensure a more balanced and transparent budget management by the local authorities. Mr Tradde explained: “we decided with the villagers to dedicate part of the budget to improving their quality of life, in particular with health facilities”.

Rewarding contribution

Mayor Tradde and the villagers illustrate how helping to strengthen a community can pay off. The people have the right to inspect their authorities’ accounts and must also be able to exert an influence. Decentralisation of skills to the local authorities is the Malian government’s response to the desire expressed by the local communities to be more autonomous. Unfortunately, this decentralisation has been accompanied by only half measures and the local authorities receive limited resources.

The GSB are working on overseeing the authorities’ budget management, analysing it and opening it up to the people. The first steps have been made towards a society where citizens can make the authorities and their representatives accountable. Corruption and a lack of transparency are major scourges for the country. There is a long way to go; however contributing to social initiatives is precious.

Energetic youth

In the afternoon, I met several organisations with whom we work in Bamako. Our partners told us in detail how, for the last two years, they have faced a military coup, unrest and political crisis in the country. They also expressed how Oxfam’s support is invaluable in these difficult times.

A young energetic woman caught my attention in particular. Adam Dicko is president of the youth council for our programme: My Rights My Voice. With incredible enthusiasm, together with other young people, she is striving for more involvement and participation. During the last elections, they challenged the presidential candidates on their plans for young people. Adam, mentioned, not without pride, that they had also interviewed the new Minister-President, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. They will ensure that he keeps to his promises. Adam knows what she wants and believes in her strength. I have renewed hope for Mali’s future.

Farah oxfamnovibFarah Karimi, 

Executive Director,Oxfam Novib

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