Since 2015, Mali’s central regions of Mopti and Ségou have become insecure hotspots at the confluence of interconnected challenges in terms of governance, development and security. Although international interventions involving a full range of actors and sectors are being increasingly reoriented towards these regions, the sustainability of the responses depends on their ability to draw on the needs and priorities of local communities.
SIPRI’s Reflection film “Addressing a key challenge in central Mali: The need for local knowledge”, released in early 2019, delved into precisely these complexities of conflict and peacebuilding. The film highlighted the need for better understanding of local dynamics in order to resolve conflict and build peace in the region. Its release was also accompanied by a series of short Spotlight interviews presenting the views of the European Union, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) Peacebuilding Fund, the World Food Programme and Point Sud—a research organization based in Bamako.
Since the need was clear, SIPRI's ongoing research in Mali has, therefore, focused on capturing and mapping these perceptions of the local population. In late 2019, SIPRI's unique access to actors in Mali’s central regions allowed for a series of interviews to take place that shone the spotlight on people’s perceptions of security in Mali. The interviews highlighted numerous, and differing, sources of insecurity. Unemployment, education and food security were recurring themes, alongside banditry on the roads and a perceived ineffectiveness of Malian police forces—particularly in more remote regions.
The interviews were conducted as part of an ongoing project that is funded by the European Union and implemented by SIPRI and its local partner in Mali, Point Sud. The project, which began in 2018, monitors governance, security and socio-economic development indicators in the Mopti and Ségou regions. The project collects both quantitative and qualitative data in order to provide an evidence-based analysis of local perspectives in Mopti and Ségou. The results of the study have now been published in the latest SIPRI Insights on Peace and Security. The study highlights how the people in Mali’s central regions understand and respond to the governance, development and security challenges they face.