In Brussels on May 15th 2013, an international donor conference, organised by the European Union and France together with Mali and entitled “Together for a new Mali”, mobilised €3.25 billion of financial commitments and pledges for that country. Capacity4dev.eu looks at how it has been possible for the EU Delegation to Mali to continue to carry out development projects in the face of a security crisis.
Throughout the current crisis, the European Union (EU) has maintained a political dialogue with the authorities of the Republic of Mali.
“This allows the EU Delegation to pursue development projects and has enabled the adoption of a roadmap leading towards elections and the restoration of the administration in the north,” explained the EU Delegation to Mali’s Chargé d’affaires a.i., Bertrand Soret, during a recent interview in Bamako.
"This political dialogue has paved the way for a new € 225 million state building contract between the EC and the Republic of Mali. Development projects will play a crucial role, but will be pending on the success of the upcoming electoral process," Mr Soret continued.
A number of projects were frozen following the March 2012 coup d’état, except for those that directly benefit the population. However, cooperation resumed soon after the adoption of a roadmap by the transitional authorities of Mali in January 2013.
"We have never reduced the 50 members of staff – both local and international - of the EU Delegation and we were therefore able to restart cooperation as soon as the political context allowed. All personnel were there and available," explained Mr Soret.
The new state building contract between the EC and Mali will provide Budget Support for funding of the government’s two year plan to tackle the current crisis.
Besides, projects in key sectors such as food security, water and sanitation, health and infrastructure are already operational, and a Linking Relief, Rehabilitation and Development (LRRD) strategy is being developed.
As part of its € 100 million support to food security in Mali – a strategic area of intervention – the EC is funding food resilience programmes targeting the most vulnerable segments of the population, in partnership with local authorities, NGOs, or international agencies such as the UN World Food Programme (WFP).
Through one such project, supported by the EC and operated by the WFP in the region of Ouélessébougou, 40 kilometres south of Bamako, the EU sponsors cash-for work programmes in agriculture and environment.The EU is also working with state agencies, including the Office du Niger.
For example, the EU is financing a € 30 million irrigation project covering 2,500 hectares of fertile land, in M’Bewani (area of Segou, 230 kms north east of Bamako), that has just completed despite the political crisis, bringing direct benefits to 1,000 farmers and their dependents, and more farm products on the market.
However, some flagship projects were interrupted for security reasons, Mr Soret explained.
One such project is the road to Timbuktu, which will link this regional capital to Bamako by a paved road for the first time. The EU is currently waiting for security to improve in order to restart work on this 500 km stretch, the longest on the continent that is being financed under the 10th EDF.
More generally, Mr Soret explained that a number of projects that directly benefited the Malian authority’s state budget had been interrupted. "We had to adapt ourselves and reserve that money for the future. (…) We are able to respond now with the state building contract so quickly because we managed to remain mobilised in order to react as soon as conditions were met," he explained.
"Besides this, to address emergency action, we have used the Instrument of Stability. This has allowed providing means to the security forces and to the government of Mali to quickly restore the institutional presence and the social services (in the northern regions)."
Mr Soret, who is nearing the end of his three year posting at the Delegation to Mali, said that the main lesson he has learnt from the Malian situation is that "Mali was thought to be a model of democratic development and sustainability, but we have seen that it was extremely fragile. So it is certainly a long term reflection on how we should organise our cooperation in a number of countries who are in a situation of fragility."
This collaborative piece was drafted with input from Bertrand Soret, Chargé D’affaires at the EU Delegation to Mali and Almudena Morante Mendez, International Aid/Cooperation Assistant for Mali and Cabo Verde at EuropeAid, with support from the capacity4dev.eu Coordination Team.