Informing and training rural people in Mali
An original experiment on the theme of decentralization
Djoumé SYLLA, January 2001
Dialogues, propositions, histoires pour une citoyenneté mondiale (DPH)
This sheet describes a training and information project set up following the democratic transition in Mali to train rural inhabitants. The goal is to make people understand the objectives of decentralization and in particular the importance of the participation of the inhabitants in the process, in view of the local development of their territory.
March 1991 was a turning point in Mali’s socio-political evolution through the establishment of a multi-party system that guaranteed citizens the exercise of their freedoms. This democratic process very quickly focused on decentralization as a means of deepening it and promoting local development.
In a context of illiteracy and mistrust between the citizen and the administration, how can we increase grassroots participation in this process of change with a view to local ownership? This requires training for the various actors. A project will be developed in the circles of Bougouni, Yanfolila, Kadiolo (Sikasso region) and the district of Siby (Kita circle, Koulikoro region). These are rural areas characterized by a high illiteracy rate, low purchasing power, limited access to basic social services and insufficient information and communication infrastructure.
The aim was to analyze the information and civic education needs of the rural population and to propose, in agreement with them, a series of activities to meet these needs. A civic information and training project was developed and implemented after one year.
The project had six complementary objectives
To inform the populations of the project’s localities about the framework and issues of the decentralization process underway in Mali ;
To explain to the populations the content of the texts on decentralization, to collect from the auditors the remarks and observations that this law raises ;
Remind the population of the role of their deputies as legislators ;
To animate the networks and structures already in place for the continuity of the communication process on decentralization ;
To compile documentation on decentralization for the population.
This project required the intervention of three categories of actors: three NGOs, the State administration (through the decentralization mission) and the communities. The NGOs proposed content and a methodology for intervention; the decentralization mission accompanied the entire process, ensuring the conformity of the messages disseminated; the village communities participated in the expression of information and civic training needs, in the material organization of the talk-debate sessions and in the management of the process by the audio library committees in the villages.
The project implementation strategy combined information, training, theatrical performances and documentary support.
Mini workshops were conducted at the inter-village level. They targeted change-maker groups (women and youth) and community leaders. Themes such as the history of decentralization, the place and role of village chiefs in decentralization, the stakes of the reform, the attributions of the communal council, etc., were discussed.
Information through the audio library
The information of the populations was ensured through the animation of a series of talks-debates. The audio library is a system of collective listening, discussion and exchange on a specific issue of community interest. Information relays were identified by the community and trained by the NGOs to take over from the project team. Radio broadcasts were held to expand the sphere of information on decentralization, given the team’s coverage capacity.
The Do troupe organized several theatrical performances with two plays: « The Mayor’s Visit » and « The Elected Officials’ Choice ». These performances made extensive use of humor while provoking very rich and lively discussions at the end.
The content of the animation, a basic document for audio libraries, was transcribed into Bamanan and made available to neo-literates through translation into the national language Bamanan.
Results and feedback from the project
39 audio library committees have been set up. Individual interviews clearly show that 90 of the members know how to correctly describe their mission,
39 villages received information on decentralization through 390 facilitation sessions,
At least two people per village know how to describe the objectives of decentralization, clearly stating the challenges and limitations,
The debate on democratization and decentralization is gradually taking hold in the various villages,
Documentation on decentralization has been prepared for neo-literates,
Some village actors have positioned themselves in relation to the communal councils, of which some are members.
The interest of the population in the project explains their mobilization around the objectives. Given the opportunities that decentralization offers in terms of solving complex socio-economic development problems, local capacity building actions are essential to help master the changes underway.
AADEC (Association d’appui à l’auto développement communautaire)
To go further
Article on Governance in Africa
Vocational Training, Insertion and Entrepreneurship Support for Rural Youth Project. 2016. Supervision report, Republic of Mali
Mali : Femme rurale : Les défis de l’émergence socio-économique, article published on Maliactu, 30 October 2014.