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February 18 2014

Adapting to Extreme Climate Change in Mali and Madagascar

Forest in the Kayes Region in Mali CC-NC-2.0

Forest in the Kayes region of Mali CC-NC-2.0

Mali and Madagascar have faced many similar challenges over the past five years. Political turmoil punctuated by coup d'états that saw the removal of their president-elects before the end of their terms. As a consequence, both economies had steep dives in terms of GDP. Today, Madagascar and Mali are both trying to rebuild their broken political systems via newly elected executive branches.

A lesser known challenge that both countries face is their struggle against extreme climate change. Fragile countries are often more vulnerable to extreme weather, but that adage could not be more evident than in the recent evolution of the ecosystem in Madagascar and Mali.

An undeniable impact

In Mali, the forest is slowly given way to the Sahara desert in the north. The Kayes region is symptomatic of the seemingly unstoppable progression of the desert in a region that used to host a buoyant forest and is now home to vast areas of sands and rocks.

Adrien de Chaisemartin and his colleagues from the McKinsey's Johannesburg office reported on the impact of climate change in the Malian region:

Mali is a mostly dry nation, subject to frequent droughts. Increasing temperatures and decreasing rainfall tell of a shift in climate zones as the desert moves south over productive land. In these regions, farmers dependent on agriculture and livestock already face trying periods of drought and have few options to overcome them. Many are moving to the cities, others to the country’s less arid south.

Kayes region  in Mali at the border with Senegal via wikipedia CC-BY-2.0

Kayes region in Mali at the border with Senegal via wikipedia CC-BY-2.0

Here is how they assess the current situation and the potential economic loss for the country:

The climate zone shift—the combined effect of rising average temperatures and declining average rainfall—has already pushed the country’s agroecological zones to the south over the past 50 years, with average rainfall down by about 200 millimeters and average temperatures up by 0.5°C over the same period. [..] The pessimistic high-change scenario could involve losses of about $300 million annually (some 15 percent of the value of agriculture and livestock); the optimistic scenario, losses of $120 million annually (6 percent)

In Madagascar, the impact of climate change was even more dramatic. Following two consecutive cyclones (Giovanna in 2012 and Haruna in 2013) that made landfall on the island and displaced at least 100,000 people, the southern region was plagued by a locust invasion. How those events are related is explained by Emmanuel Perrin on maxisciences [fr]:

Le cyclone Haruna a touché l’île de Madagascar. Or, son passage a créé les conditions d'humidité favorables à la prolifération de criquets migrateurs. Les autorités n’ont pas réagi à temps et, aujourd’hui, leur population atteint 500 milliards d’individus, estime une récente mission de comptage.

Cyclone Haruna hit the island of Madagascar and its landfall has created the humid conditions that favors the massive proliferation of locusts. The authorities did not react in time, and today their population reached 500 billion in the most recent estimates.

Locust invasion in down town Fianaratsoa, Madagascar

Locust invasion in downtown Fianaratsoa, Madagascar

The World Food Programme states that 60 percent of rice production will be affected by the locust invasion. Cyclone Haruna's direct impact was also dramatically felt by southern farmers as 6,351 hectares of their crop fields were flooded. Raw footage of the floods can be seen in this video from YouTube user ongbelavenir:

How to adapt

So what can local population do to withstand the climate assault on their way of life? Here are a few ideas by Michael Kleine and his fellow scientists or researchers from the International Union of Forest Research Organizations solutions (IUFRO):

New modes of governance should enhance effective stakeholder and community participation, transparent and accountable decision-making, and the equitable sharing of benefits. And strategies for adapting forests to climate change must be coordinated with those of other sectors and integrated into national and regional development programmes and strategies.

In the field, new strategies are dependent on the local context and the type of activities in the region. For instance, declining crop yields can be countered with the following measures: increase crop diversification and plant early maturing crop varieties such as the NERICA rice variety. 

Dr. Balgis Osman Elasha emphasized the importance of grasping the local context and gaining buy-ins from community leaders to implement the new measures:

The same policy could yield contrasting results ,for different sectors or different activities in the same sector, e.g. removing subsides on inputs, from agriculture produced positive impact on traditional rain fed sector (using minimum inputs), and negative impacts on mechanized irrigated agriculture (using intensive inputs) [..] Community Leaders are key players in the policy process , they possess a wealth of indigenous knowledge regarding the wise use and conservation of natural resources, moreover, customary rules and orders issued by them , are considered sacred by their local community. 

January 30 2014

L'amiral quitte le bord

Fils du journaliste Jean-Louis Guillaud, créateur de la troisième chaîne de l'ORTF et ancien PDG de TF1 et de l'AFP, l'amiral Edouard Guillaud, chef d'état-major des armées depuis 2009, n'a pas été pour autant le super-communiquant dont on aurait pu rêver. Alors qu'il doit céder son poste le 15 février prochain à son adjoint, le major général Pierre de Villiers, il s'est tout de même un peu « lâché » devant les journalistes de défense, lundi dernier, tout en se défendant de se livrer à un quelconque « (...) - Défense en ligne / France, Armée, Armement, Conflits, Défense, Politique, Presse, Stratégie, Mali, Centrafrique

January 28 2014

Supporting the Rights of Malian Youth to Education

While Mali is trying to reunite in its large territory strained by a prolonged internal conflict between the north and the rest of the country, its young people are impatient to move forward to build Mali's future. My Rights, My Voice, Mali is a project led by Malian youth and supported by Oxfam to promote their rights to education and sexual and reproductive health.

Image from Facebook page for the My Rights, My Voice project. Used with permission.

Image from Facebook page for the My Rights, My Voice project. Used with permission.

The context

Although 80 percent of Mali’s children enrolled in primary school in 2010-11 school year, the system struggles to give them a quality education. Almost half abandon their schooling early, while many complete school without basic reading, writing and mathematical skills. The education system is also plagued by a lack of schools in rural areas, as well as shortages of teachers and materials.

High school students in Kati, Mali via wikipedia  Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license.

High school students in Kati, Mali via Wikipedia Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license.

Laya Diarra, a blogger for Afribone in Bamako explains that finishing primary school is often not enough to solve the literacy issue [fr]: 

Il a été constaté que les enfants qui terminaient le 1er Cycle de l’Enseignement Fondamental retombaient très vite dans l’illettrisme. Cet enseignement ne garantissait pas le minimum éducatif que le système se donnait comme objectif.

Statistics show that many children who completed primary school fell quickly back into illiteracy. This formation did not guarantee the minimum objectives that the educational system aims for.

Additionally, the gender gap in access to education is still a major subject of concern. In 2008, more than 80,000 students passed exams to enter secondary schools, yet around 17,000 — 40 percent of whom were girls — were denied placement in secondary schools. Marianne Opheim, an education researcher, explained that the gender gap is not as large as it may seem [fr]:

Tout en reconnaissant l'importance des facteurs particuliers au statut de la femme, je pense que la sous-scolarisation des filles est étroitement liée aux grands défis généraux de l'école malienne, tels que l'écart linguistique et culturel entre l'école et le foyer

While it is important to recognize the importance of specific factors linked to women status, I think the under-enrollment of girls in school is closely linked to the general challenges of the Malian school system, such as the linguistic and cultural gap between their school and their home.

Some solutions

Mali faces a shortage of teachers (only one per 100 pupils in some areas), poor teacher training, a lack of classroom materials and an outdated curriculum. Still, some schools are rising to the challenges, like the Mohamed Diallo Primary School. In the following French-language video, the director argues that despite many challenges, the school was able to meet its goals thanks to the dedication of the teachers:

The education authorities’ lack of accountability and transparency in financial management means legal standards are not upheld and policies such as the national girls’ education policy are not implemented.

Working with partners in Mali such as the Education for All coalition, My Rights, My Voice is advocating for an improved national curriculum, including life skills and sexual and reproductive health rights. They also train youth groups to monitor policy implementation so that they can hold the government accountable to its commitments to provide quality education for all Mali’s children and to promote girls’ schooling in particular. 

January 07 2014

Why Elders Protect Doves in Rural Mali

Doves in rural Mali via Fasokan with his permission

Doves in rural Mali via Fasokan with his permission

Fasokan explains why elders in rural Mali pay special attention to the protection of doves [fr] :

Les vieilles personnes font tout pour protéger ces oiseaux contre la tuerie des enfants pendant leurs chasses avec des lance-pierres. Si par hasard il arrive qu’un groupe de jeunes garçons attrape une tourterelle vivante, une vieilles personne du village rachète l’oiseau et le libère. Cet achat a pour but de mettre les enfants dans leur droit parce qu’ils ont fourni de l’effort pour l’attraper.[..] les tourterelles sont considérées comme annonciatrices d’évènements futurs selon leurs chants, comme l’arrivée d’un étranger ou d’une étrangère. De village en village pour les commissions des parents, les tourterelles informaient les jeunes envoyés en cours de route, sur la position de celui ou celle qu’ils devaient aller voir dans un autre village.

Elders would do everything in their power to protect doves when children go for a hunt with their slingshots. If a group of young boys happen catch a live dove, an old person from the village would buy the dove from them and then release it. The purchase aims not only to protect the dove but also to not punish the kids because it took some effort and ingenuity to make the catch [The reason why Doves are protected is because] they are considered harbingers of future events based on their songs of the moment. For instance  it could announce the arrival of a guest. When children run errands for their parents from village to village, doves would inform children whether the people they were looking for were at home.

January 02 2014

Innovation: A Solar Energy Powered PC Made in Mali

Limmorgal, a low power PC made in Mali via Tech of Africa with permission

Limmorgal, a solar energy powered PC made in Mali via Tech of Africa with permission

As part of our series on innovation made in Africa, we recently showcased the 3D printer made from E-waste in Togo and a spell checker for Bambara language. Today, we present the first low-power PC made in Mali. The PC called Limmorgal (Calculator in Peul language) is the brainchild of two Malian groups, Internet society Mali (ISOC Mali) and Intelec 3. Mamadou Iam Diallo, president of ISOC Mali, explains the needs they want to fulfill with this PC to Bamako Blog [fr]:

Nous avons conçu cette machine pour contribuer à la réduction du fossé numérique, mais également à la vulgarisation de l’outil informatique surtout en milieu scolaire. Limmorgal est aussi un ordinateur adapté à l’alimentation par l’énergie solaire grâce à sa faible consommation d’énergie.

We designed this PC to help reduce the digital divide, but also the expansion of the use of computers in schools. Limmorgal is a computer adapted to be powered by solar energy and requires low energy consumption (24 Watts required).

The basic specifications of the PC are :

  • Operating system: Ubuntu (open source) 
  • 1.4 G Hertz microprocessor
  • 1GB RAM
  • Unit pricing : 171000 Fcfa (260 euros)

3 Suggestions for Good Governance in the Central African Republic, Madagascar and Mali

Three countries in francophone Africa are fighting to exit prolonged social crises that stem from broken political systems. Over the past five years, the Central African Republic, Madagascar and Mali went through political takeovers that involved the participation of armed factions: 

All three nations face similar long odds before a sustainable political system can be stabilized. Here are three conditions that civil societies in these respective countries have identified in order to start the reconstruction of the political system.

Madagascar   

Emmanuel Jovelin, a lecturer at the Université of Lille, and Lala Rarivomanantsoa, a professor at the University of Antananarivo, wrote a book called “Opinion publique et bonne gouvernance à Madagascar” [Public opinion and good governance in Madagascar]. The authors addressed a multitude of issues pertaining to Malagasy citizens’ perception of their political representatives. One of their most outstanding chapters is the proposed framework for evaluating governance in Madagascar. They opine [fr]: 

Le gouverné n'est pas, comme on a toujours tendance à le croire, une masse informe que le gouvernant pourrait modeler à sa guise. L'opinion qu'il se fait de la gouvernance prend des formes variées parfois contradictoires pour mettre en place une administration efficace. [...] Mais l'ensemble des opinions recensées dans cette étude peut constituer la base d'une gouvernance respectant les règles de la démocratie [...] La succession des différents régimes depuis l'Indépendance peut s'expliquer par une faiblesse des structures intermédiaires de dialogue (à travers l'administration et au sein de la société civile) qui n'ont pas fonctionné comme on aurait pu le souhaiter.  

Citizens are not, as one tends to believe, a shapeless mass that could be shaped as rulers would wish. Citizens’ opinion of governance takes various forms sometimes contradictory to the establishment of an effective administration. [...] Still, all opinions identified in this study can form the basis of a governance that respects the rules of democracy [...] The succession of different regimes since independence can be explained by a weakly structures intermediate dialogue (through government and within civil society) that did not work as one might wish.

Below is the matrix they propose to evaluate the performance of the governing administration:

Screenshot of the  framework to evaluate governance in Madagascar from an extract of the book by Jovelin, Rarivomanantsoa - CC-license-BY

Screenshot of the framework to evaluate governance in Madagascar from an extract of the book by Jovelin, Rarivomanantsoa – CC-license-BY

The first two lines details the skills/competence that any governing bodies should showcase and provide a scoring chart  :

1. Scoring for “Academic Achievement” : primary school: 1; secondary school: 2 ; higher education: 3.

2. Scoring  for the feasability of development programmes : weak : 1; medium: 2; strong: 3. 

Central African Republic

The conflict in the Central African Republic has escalated to an alarming level of victims: the death toll has now reached at least 500, according to the local Red Cross.

Map of the battles in late 2012 in the CAR civil war via wikipedia CC License-BY

Map of the battles in late 2012 in the CAR Civil War via Wikipedia CC License-BY

The following video illustrates the level of fear and insecurity across the country:

The OCBG blog based in Bangui reports on the proceedings meeting on good governance [fr] in the CAR:

En Centrafrique ou ailleurs, par crainte ou par méfiance et quelquefois désintérêt à la chose politique, nombreux sont ceux qui se cachent [..] Notre pays a été marqué par des mutineries successives, des coups d’état et des rebellions ce qui affecte sa stabilité et son développement économique [..] En effet, les centrafricains attendent des gouvernants de demain : L’organisation d’une véritable armée nationale ; la garantie sécuritaire des populations sur toute l’étendue du pays ; l création des infrastructures (écoles, routes, hôpitaux, bâtiments administratifs etc.,) les accords de Libreville ne peuvent résoudre les problématiques récurrentes à notre pays, dans la mesure où Libreville a été qu’une course à l’échalote et des maroquins, aucun des protagonistes n’a posé la question relative à l’urgence sociale qui prévaut

In CAR and the greater region, many people are hiding because of fear, distrust and disinterest towards politics [...] Our country has been marked by successive mutinies, coups and rebellions which affects its stability and economic development [...] In fact, the CAR expect the following from their leaders: the establishment of a truly national army, the guaranteed safety of populations throughout the country, the creation of infrastructure (schools, roads, hospitals, administrative buildings etc.). The Libreville agreement cannot solve the recurrent problems of our country because the Libreville agreement [a ceasefire agreement signed in January 2013 that stipulated the integration of the opposition in the government] was a race for money and power, neither side even addressed the question of social emergency that prevails.

Mali

The Malian crisis was partly resolved by the French military intervention in 2013, but despite the presence of the peace forces, unrest is still prominent in the northern territory.

 A Tuareg rebel in northern Mali on wikipedia CC-license-BY

A Tuareg rebel in northern Mali on Wikipedia CC-license-BY

In light of many still unresolved issue of governance, Michael Bratton, Massa Coulibaly and Fabiana Machado report on the survey they conducted with Malian citizens on what they expect in a good governance [PDF] : 

Malians prefer democracy to other political regimes but their perception of democracy is culturally distinct. Malian satisfaction with democracy is often seen in terms of the personal performance of individual political leaders. They judge the legitimacy of the state based on popular trust in public institutions and perceptions that public officials are not corrupt [..] Malians continue to regard the State as the most reliable provider of employment. They prefer cosnensus and unity to political and economic competition. 

December 22 2013

Innovation: A Spell Checker for Bambara Language

screen capture of Bambara spell checker via Fasokan

screen capture of Bambara spell checker via Fasokan

Fasokan in Mali reports on the creation of an app to help spell check texts in Bambara [fr] :

Il est disponible sur les traitements de texte et outils bureautiques libres et gratuit : Open Office, Libre Office, Néo Office, et sur les ordinateurs Windows, Mac, et Linux. Qu’est-ce qui a rendu ceci possible ? D’abord l’énorme travail fait par les linguistes qui ont publié des dictionnaires et des grammaires ces dernières années : ces dictionnaires sont maintenant disponibles sur ordinateur [..] Ces linguistes ont rencontré des informaticiens, tous ces gens là ont eu des rêves..

The spell checker is available on open source word processors and office software such as: Open Office, Libre Office, Neo Office, and on Windows, Mac, and Linux computers. What made ​​this possible? First, there was the enormous amount of work done by linguists who published dictionaries and grammar books that are now available online [..] These linguists came together with IT engineers with a dream of building a Bambara spell checker..

December 16 2013

Fire Destroys Basin Market in Bamako, Mali

An accidental fire destroyed the basin market [fr] located near the Wahhabites Mosque of Bamako yesterday (12/15). It is the third tragedy of such kind in market area of Bamako in 4 years. Nama explains why such incident seems to repeat itself in his city [fr] :

Plusieurs plans d'aménagement de l'Artisanat ont été proposés par les autorités depuis la construction de la grande mosquée. Aucune de ces études n'a pas pu être concrétisée. Tout semble géré par une mafia qui ne dit pas son nom. Partout règnent l'anarchie et l'incivisme à zéro pas de l'Assemblée Nationale.

Several estate developments for the handicraft have been proposed by the authorities since the construction of the Great Mosque. None of these studies have ever materialized. Everything seems to be run by an invisible mafia. Anarchy and incivility prevail everywhere in the district, right under the nose of the National Assembly.

Basin Market in Bamako, Mali via Palladium blog

Basin Market in Bamako, Mali via Palladium blog

December 12 2013

Nelson Mandela's Death: ‘Left Us in Body, But His Spirit Is Eternal’

Since former South African President and anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela's death on December 5, 2013, people throughout the world have reflected on the beloved leader's life and the legacy he leaves behind.

Here are 6 reactions from around the world :

United Kingdom

Musa Okwonga, a poet and author based in London, noted on his blog that Mandela was first and foremost a revolutionary who went to war against injustice in his country before he was a symbol of peace and reconciliation:

Over the next few days you will try so, so hard to make him something he was not, and you will fail. You will try to smooth him, to sandblast him, to take away his Malcolm X. [..] You will say that Mandela was about nothing but one love, you will try to reduce him to a lilting reggae tune. “Let’s get together, and feel alright.” [..] Well, try hard as you like, and you’ll fail. Because Mandela was about politics and he was about race and he was about freedom and he was even about force, and he did what he felt he had to do and given the current economic inequality in South Africa he might even have died thinking he didn’t do nearly enough of it.

Madagascar

Mialisoa, a blogger in Antananarivo, Madagascar, expressed her deep respect and gratitude for the life lessons she's taken from Mandela in a post titled Bonne Route, Monsieur [fr] (Safe Travels, Sir):  

Un jour, Monsieur, je m’assoirais près de mes enfants et je leur lirais votre histoire. Un jour, mes enfants s’assoiront près de leurs enfants et ils leur liront votre histoire. Grâce à vous, je sais et grâce à vous, je continuerais à apprendre:
Je sais de qui parler, lorsque viendra le temps d’expliquer à mes enfants ce qu’est un homme de courage et de conviction.
Je sais de quels principes s’inspirer lorsque viendra le temps d’élever les miens.
Je sais l’importance de la réconciliation. Avec soi-même et avec son prochain.
Je sais la valeur du pardon.
Je sais le précieux de l’égalité.
Je sais qu’il est possible de rendre les hommes et soi-même, meilleurs.
Je sais le bien que créent l’humilité, l’humour et l’audace. [..] 
Je sais, Monsieur, que je n’en sais pas assez. Je sais bien que je suis loin de savoir. Aussi, la meilleure manière de vous rendre hommage, Monsieur, est de continuer à apprendre et apprendre à agir. Et que Dieu nous vienne en aide, car le temps d’agir est maintenant venu.
Monsieur, merci. Je vous souhaite une bonne route.

One day, sir, I will sit with my children and read them your story. One day, my children will sit with their children and read them your story. Thanks to you, I know and thanks to you, I will keep learning:
I know of whom to speak, when the time comes to explain to my children what makes a man of courage and conviction.
I know what principles to draw on when the time comes to raise mine.
I know the importance of reconciliation. With ourselves and with our fellow people.
I know the value of forgiveness.
I know the value of equality.
I know it is possible to make humankind and ourselves better.
I know the good that humility, humor, and boldness can do. [...] 
I know, sir, that I do not know enough. I know very well that I am far from knowing. So the best way to pay tribute to you, sir, is to continue to learn and learn to act. God help us, for the time to act has now come.
Thank you, sir. I wish you a safe journey. 

Toavina, a political analyst from Antananarivo,  recalled on his Facebook page Madagascar's role [fr] in supporting Nelson Mandela's African National Congress (ANC), the  resistance movement against apartheid and now South Africa's governing political party: 

N'oubliez pas chers Malgaches, que MADAGASCAR a aidé le peuple Noir Sud-Africain ! Nous avons hébergé sous la Deuxième Rep la Radio de l'ANC. Piet Botha, Ministre des affaires étrangères de l'Afrique du Sud est venu à Madagascar pour discuter du cas de l'afrique du Sud avec l'ancien président Ratsiraka. De Klerk est aussi venu à Mada dans les années 90.

Do not forget, dear Madagascans, that MADAGASCAR helped the back people of South Africa! We broadcasted ANC's radio station during our Second Republic. Pik Botha, South Africa's Minister of Foreign Affairs, came to Madagascar to discuss the South African situation with former President Ratsiraka. De Klerk also came to Madagascar in the '90s. 

Mali

While it was hard for him to find the words, Boukary Konaté, a Global Voices contributor in Bamako wanted to commemorate the man [fr]:

« repose en paix », car je n’ai pas de mots. Je n’ai pas de mots car tous les mots sont insignifiants pour exprimer ce que je veux dire. Alors, je me tais, je me tais dans mes murmures internes

“Rest in peace,” for I have no words. I have no words because no words are sufficient to express what I want to say. So, I'll stay silent, I'll keep quiet with my inner thoughts.

He added [fr]: 

Je suis fier qu'il y ait une Rue Mandela et une Ecole Mandela à Bamako au Mali. Je vais toute de suite pour une interview avec le Directeur de l'Ecole Mandela.

I am proud that there is a Mandela Street and a Mandela School in Bamako, Mali. I'm going to have an interview right away with the Mandela School's principal.

Here is the school in question:

This teacher at the #Mandela school began the morning by talking about the man with his first-grade students #Mali pic.twitter.com/0gwSg5lrPg
— Boukary Konaté (@Fasokan) December 6, 2013

Niger

Aminatou, a women's right activist in Niamey, Niger shared this thoughts [fr] about Mandela and education:

Mandela est une source inépuisable d’inspiration. Sa phrase sur l’éducation résonne fortement aux oreilles de tous :
« L’Éducation : l’arme la plus puissante que l’on puisse utiliser pour changer le monde. »

Mandela is an endless source of inspiration. What he said about education resonates strongly with everyone:
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

France

Archippe, a French-based Cameroonian blogger and president of Internet sans frontières, pointed out a lesson for African countries to take away on his Facebook page [fr]:

Nelson Mandela nous aura enseigné une chose essentielle à nous africains, à nous humains: on peut vraincre par les armes, le nombre, la rhétorique, mais la vraie victoire, celle qui marque les siècles, est celle de l'esprit enchanté. Le corps de mandela n'est plus, son esprit est éternel.

Nelson Mandela will have taught us, us Africans, us humans, one essential thing: We can conquer with weapons, with numbers, and with rhetoric, but the real victory, what leaves its mark for centuries, is that of the soul. Mandela has left us in body, but his spirit is eternal.

An Algerian leader, through Alexandre Adler, a well-known french political blogger, commented on the impact the “Mandela approach” [fr] of inter-ethnic reconciliation could have had in Algeria:

Il y a quelques années, un dirigeant algérien nous confia que la «ligne Mandela» de réconciliation inter-ethnique aurait évidemment mieux convenu à l’Algérie de 1962 que le départ précipité des Européens et des juifs qui fut consommé en moins d’un an. Mais, ajoutait-il, «à cette époque, nous n’avions pas les idées de Mandela, et celles-ci nous serviraient bien aujourd’hui».

A few years ago, an Algerian leader confided that the “Mandela approach” of interethnic reconciliation would have evidently been better for Algeria in 1962 than the sudden departure of Europeans and Jews that came to pass in less than a year. “But,” he added, “At the time, we didn't have Mandela's ideas, and today they would serve us well.”

November 24 2013

Au chevet des déchirures maliennes

Le Groupe de recherche et d'information sur la paix et la sécurité (GRIP) propose des clés pour comprendre la situation au Mali. Les chercheurs réunis par le laboratoire belge disposent tous d'une expérience de terrain. Au-delà des causes immédiates de la guerre qui a coupé le pays en deux (erreurs (...) / États-Unis (affaires extérieures), France, Libye, Développement, Économie, Terrorisme, Mali, Touaregs, Sahel, Afrique de l'Ouest - 2013/11

November 21 2013

Le blues de l'armée malienne

Le 22 avril 2013, l'Assemblée nationale a confirmé qu'une « force d'appui » d'un millier de soldats français resterait au Mali de façon « permanente ». A Kidal, dans le nord du pays, la mission internationale de soutien devrait prendre le relais des troupes tchadiennes. Mais qu'est-il arrivé à l'armée (...) / Afrique, Armée, Conflit, Défense, Inégalités, Islam, Fondamentalisme, Mali, Touaregs, Afrique de l'Ouest, Coup d'État - 2013/05

November 10 2013

Sadness and Anger in Kidal, Mali

Blogger Wirriyamu mourns the two French journalists killed [fr] in Kidal, Mali. But beside his immense sadness, Wirriyamu also feels angry at seeing Northern Mali left helpless yet again to terrorists attacks. He writes [fr] about his silent anger at the situation there  :

Tant qu’il ne sera pas possible de patrouiller dans Kidal, tant que cette ville ne sera pas réellement dans une situation normale, ce genre d’assassinat continuera hélas à être possible. Si la paix doit avoir pour prix cette zone de non droit, alors (que les maliens me pardonnent) nous devons y renoncer au moins momentanément.

As long as the army is not allowed to patrol in Kidal, this type of assassination will continue to happen. If there were to be real peace in this stateless zone, the price to pay (May my Malian friends forgive me) might be to renounce peace temporarily.

November 08 2013

Images propres, guerres sales

Irak, Libye, Mali : la communication des militaires en temps de guerre s'est professionnalisée. Les militaires veulent établir leurs règles du jeu. La consigne est de ne pas mentir, pour échapper aux accusations de manipulation et de désinformation. / Afghanistan, États-Unis (affaires extérieures), (...) / Afghanistan, États-Unis (affaires extérieures), France, Armée, Audiovisuel, Censure, Communication, Conflit, Défense, Désinformation, Information, Médias, Photographie, Presse, Mali, Infoguerre, Guerre d'Afghanistan 2001 - - 2013/10

November 06 2013

The FIRE Awards Winners for Internet Development in Africa

The FIRE programme awards, an initiative of AFRINIC, acknowledge the actors from the African region who strive to provide solutions to internet development for the African Continent. The 2013 FIRE Awards Winners are : 

Below is the presentation of the MEWC initiative :

November 01 2013

Otages et soldats de France en Afrique

Le record est peu enviable : celui des prises d'otages français en Afrique. En quinze ans, 94 captures (moins les quatre d'Areva, libérés le mardi 29 octobre), contre 48 pour l'ensemble des ressortissants d'autres pays. La France — en dépit de la doctrine officielle de refus de s'acquitter de rançons — a la réputation, notamment en Afrique, d'être « un Etat qui paie ». A tous égards… La centaine de milliers de résidents sur ce continent — qui représentent moins de 8 % des Français de l'étranger — sont les (...) - Défense en ligne / Afrique, France, Armée, Coopération, Défense, État, Finance, Mali, Otages

October 01 2013

September 24 2013

Trafic de cocaïne, une pièce négligée du puzzle sahélien

A mi-chemin entre l'Amérique latine et l'Europe, l'Afrique de l'Ouest est devenue une plaque tournante du trafic de cocaïne en provenance de Colombie, du Pérou ou de Bolivie. L'argent issu du commerce de la drogue contribue au délitement des Etats africains. / Amérique latine, Armée, Criminalité, (...) / Amérique latine, Armée, Criminalité, Narcotrafic, Transports, Mali, Guinée-Bissau, Sahel, Afrique de l'Ouest, Drogue, Corruption - 2013/02

September 19 2013

Au Mali, l'inusable refrain de la guerre au terrorisme

La guerre déclenchée par Paris au Mali le 11 janvier 2013 reçoit un soutien international d'autant plus mitigé que les objectifs fixés restent flous. Comme les Etats-Unis en Afghanistan, et faute d'une vision stratégique, la France risque de s'enliser dans de vastes zones désertiques propices à la (...) / Afghanistan, France, Armée, Guérilla, Islam, Pétrole, Terrorisme, Fondamentalisme, Mali, Sahel, Afrique de l'Ouest - 2013/02

September 16 2013

How Malian Citizens Help Monitor the 2013 Presidential Elections

On March 22nd 2012, a military coup led by the recently promoted Army General, Captain Amadou Haya Sanogo, took place against the democratically-elected General Amadou Toumani Touré… plunging Mali into a deep socio-political and military crisis.

During the coup, large towns in northern Mali were occupied by jihadis, and a rebel group – the Mouvement National de Libération de l’Azawad (MNLA) – fighting for the independence of the region. The rebels were quickly joined by additional fundamentalist groups. This pushed several thousand inhabitants to seek refuge in Mali's southern towns still untouched by the coup, and in neighboring countries (Burkina-Faso, Mauritania, Senegal and Niger).

After the coup, a provisional government led by Dioncounda Traoré was put into place. In spite of the challenge of getting refugees and displaced Malians to the polls, elections were organised.

The first and second electoral rounds took place on the 28th of July and the 11th of August, 2013, and were considered to be legitimate and peaceful. Former Prime Minister Ibrahim Boubacar Kéita was elected with 77.61% of the vote; his main competitor in the 2nd round, Mr. Soumalia Cissé, conceded defeat before the official results were even announced.

un homme vote pour le second tour des élections présidentielles maliennes à Tombouctou via UNHCR avec leur permission

A man votes during the second round of the Malian Presidential elections at Timbuktu. Image used with permission from UNHCR

Several factors helped to level the playing field during the elections. The jihadi threats, the scattered population, and the difficulties of transportation decreased the chances that the elections would be vulnerable to any predetermined outcome. There was also a military occupation in the town of Kidal by the MNLA, which refused to recognize the authority of the Mali central government. In addition, important political, diplomatic and military efforts were made by the provisional government, civil society organizations and the international community. These factors allowed major obstacles to be overcome, paving the way for the elections.

Supported by a French-speaking Global Voices team, an online network to follow the elections was put into place. The project endeavored to establish volunteer media spokespeople and internet users from Bamako and other regions of Mali. These volunteers leveraged social media to share information throughout the electoral process from their home locations. Using smartphones, they updated the Facebook page [fr] “Info Elections 2013 au Mali” and twitter account @malivote, both created especially for the event two weeks prior to the elections. This allowed for people to easily follow the elections online.

The project also organised a demonstration of the role and potential benefits of the Internet in the electoral process. This was presented to the heads of certain sectors of public and private infrastructure, such as those ministries in charge of organizing the elections, including: the CENI (the Malian independent electoral commission), the Ministry of Information and New Technologies and Communication, and the Ministry of Communication. It was also shared with mobile phone businesses such as Orange Mali and Malitel, as well as the heads of MINUZMA (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali). The project additionally presented demonstrations of Afripedia, a tool that allows searches on wikipdeia without the need for an internet connection.

Boukary Konate dans la chambre technique du pole d'observation citoyenne électorale via facebook

Boukary Konate in the technology room in the polling station viewing room. Via Facebook.

Information was centralized on the special Facebook page [fr], which amassed over 1,100 fans in just a few days before the elections.

Participating in information sessions: “Media and the elections in Mali” 

A few weeks before the launch of the project, the organisers participated in two information sessions on media and elections in Mali, the first of which was organised by organized by the International Foundation for Electronic Systems (IFES) and its partners (16th of July 2013). Additional sessions were organized by the Ministry of Territorial Administration and the Ministry of Decentralization and Territorial Planning, in collaboration with the Malian Press and Advertising Agency (AMAP) (July 14th to 19th, 2013).

The goal of these training sessions was to give increased information on the electoral process to the media, so that they could better inform the public about the structure of the Malian electoral system. Subjects addressed included: Malian electoral law, Malian political parties, types of journalistic coverage (reports, descriptions, interviews…), journalistic code of ethics, limitations and constraints that journalists face. In addition, principles that govern the journalistic profession were discussed, such as respect for private life and humility, among others.

Over the course of these information sessions, many participants asked questions about the nature of social networks, blogs and bloggers. It became evident that Mali must continue to meet the challenge of educating people about the new virtual world, since many Malians are still unfamiliar with these technologies, despite the fact that most of the country's candidates do have Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Citizen's Electoral Observation Deck : Monitoring social networks 

The NGO network “Appui au Processus Electoral au Mali/Réseau APEM” (Support to Mali's Electoral Process), in collaboration with the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) and the National Council of Civil Society (Conseil National de la Société Civile) put together a program entitled “Pole d’Observation Citoyenne Electorale” (POCEs), or Citizen's Electoral Observation Deck (CEOD). This exists under it's program “Appui au processus Démocratique par l’observation citoyenne de la pré-électorale et des élections Présidentielles et législatives de  2013 (1er et 2ème Tours) au Mali” (Citizens support the democratic process by monitoring the Malian electoral race, and both rounds of the 2013 legislative and presidential elections).

During the first and second rounds of the elections, the CEODs noted a tremendous amount of public scrutiny across many systems. The APEM Network deployed 2,100 national observers across the nation (some of whom were assigned to fixed locations and others who were mobile). Additionally, there were 78 supervisors charged with the task of demonstrating the platform Malivote during its launch on July 28th 2013 in 1,583 polling stations. One of the areas that the project was responsible for was the monitoring of social networks, producing daily reports during the course of the two rounds of elections.

Address from President-elect Ibrahim Boubacar KEITA (also known as IBK)

The inauguration of the new President of Mali Mr. Ibrahim Boubacar KEITA (IBK) is set for the 4th of September 2013. As a follow-up to the Facebook group effort, a livetweet of this event is being organized, so that it may be observed from a distance.

September 10 2013

La guerre du « Sahelistan » aura-t-elle lieu ?

Autorisée par les Nations unies, une intervention militaire internationale dans le nord du Mali ne semble néanmoins pas imminente. Face à ces incertitudes et à l'impatience de la population, l'armée malienne est tentée de reprendre en main les affaires publiques. / Armée, Islam, Mouvement de (...) / Armée, Islam, Mouvement de contestation, Politique, Mali, Touaregs, Organisation internationale, Corruption - 2013/01
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