Bringing together grantees from the Danish-funded ‘Drivers of Change’ project, the Embassy of Denmark praises the deployment of 2329 observers to monitor the election process in two voting rounds.
On the 29th of March and 19th of April, members of 13 mostly youth-led civil society organisations (CSOs) panned out across Mali in a democrat exercise to observe elections and keep the public up to date on developments through a central reporting office established in the Radisson Hotel.
Supported by the Embassy of Denmark in Bamako and the Danida-financed and NIRAS-managed Drivers of Change grant fund (Fond d’Appui aux Moteurs du Changement or FAMOC for short), the initiative pooled the resources of multiple groups, including the media, to promote participatory citizenship and human rights.
The CSOs also shared prevention practices and tackled the spread of misinformation regarding COVID-19 among voters as part of the process.
In 2012, Mali faced a multidimensional crisis that brought down the government and exposed deep rifts in society, culture and politics. Although there has been progress since then, in recent years the security situation has again deteriorated as a result of intercommunity conflicts, political tension at the national level, and the continued absence of the State in the north and centre of the country.
Public dissatisfaction with the political class over the lack of security, as well as a deficit in basic services such as education and health continue to grow, and religion has crept into the political process, taking advantage of the delegitimization of power. The crisis is also fuelled by cross-border crime linked to drug, migrant and arms trafficking, which provides illicit income for those controlling the transit routes.
As part of efforts to make Mali’s political culture more inclusive and responsive, Denmark launched FAMOC in 2017 to support young drivers of change in civil society working toward peaceful coexistence and reconciliation. A NIRAS-managed grant fund implementing one of the components of Denmark’s Development Commitment in Mali, FAMOC targets young people specifically and aims at two major objectives:
According to FAMOC’s mid-term report, the fund has had a significant impact: “A ‘FAMOC dynamic’ seems to have emerged in which grant beneficiaries rub shoulders together, share their experiences and coordinate efforts. Several beneficiaries have recognised that this synergy is encouraged by the FAMOC Secretariat. In Sikasso, the various beneficiaries are reflecting on the creation of a consultation framework between beneficiaries. These synergies have led to cooperation: participation in training delivered by other FAMOC organisations, provision of journalists to cover the events, and so on... ”
The collaboration around the election observation initiative is one such example of how this synergy has been harnessed. On both voting days, the CSOs established teams at the Radisson for data collection, analysis and communication, which was supported by the deployment of 1228 observers in the first election round and 1101 in the second.
The central teams based at the hotel produced press releases on the process with participation trends and details on the overall voting process, including incidents that hindered voting operations across the country. In recognition of their efforts, Malian Prime Minister Dr. Boubou Cissé thanked the team for their work and announced the Government would take their recommendations on the elections into consideration.
NIRAS manages the €10.5 million fund and provides grants and capacity development to CSOs and media organisations that promote citizenship, good governance and human rights while building community resilience. The project runs until 2022.