What Next for Mali? Four priorities for better governance in Mali | Mali

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The 2013 elections helped to restore constitutional order in Mali and marked the start of a period of hope for peace, stability and development. The challenge is now to respond to the Malian people's desire for improved governance. This briefing note, based on the experiences of Oxfam and its Malian civil society partners, calls on the new government to ensure: equitable development across all regions of the country
  OXFAM BRIEFING NOTE 5  FEBRUARY 2014 Malian children in a Burkina Faso refugee camp, 2012. © Vincent Tremeau / Oxfam WHAT NEXT FOR MALI? Four priorities for better governance The 2013 elections helped to restore constitutional order in Mali and marked the start of a period of hope for peace, stability and development. The challenge is now to respond to the Malian people's desire for improved governance. The new government must, therefore, strive to ensure equitable development, increase citizen participation, in particular women's political participation, while improving access to justice and promoting reconciliation.  2 INTRODUCTION   Almost two years after the March 2012 coup d’état , the suspension of international aid that followed, and the occupation of northern Mali by armed groups, the Malian people now have a new hope for peace, development and stability. The recent presidential elections in July and  August 2013 and parliamentary elections in November and December 2013 were a major step towards restoring constitutional order in Mali, with a democratically elected president and parliament. However, these elections alone do not guarantee a return to good governance. Major reforms are required to ensure that the democratic process serves the country's citizens, in particular women and men living in poverty. The Malian people expect to see changes in the way the country is governed; with measures taken against corruption and abuses of power by officials; citi zens’ rights  upheld, including their right to hold the state accountable; and a fairer distribution of development aid throughout the country.  A new form of governance is needed in order to have a sustainable, positive impact on both the cyclical food crises that routinely affect the country and the consequences of the conflict in the north. This should be based on strong institutions, and transparent and inclusive decision making, which promotes citizen participation and leadership. The government’s  Accelerated Development Programme for the Northern Regions (PDA/RN) and the Government Action Plan 2013-2018 address some of these issues by focusing on strengthening institutions and the rule of law, reconciliation, and development and recovery in the north. However, these policies and programmes must go further to ensure that state institutions and processes are accountable to citizens. The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) has a mandate to support government efforts to establish rule of law, improve the justice sector, and promote reconciliation. MINUSMA and donors are in the processes of developing their reconstruction and development plans and priorities for Mali. They must ensure that their initiatives support inclusion, transparency, and accountability, and strengthen the state ’s  interactions with and responsiveness to citizens and their priorities. This briefing note, based on the experiences of Oxfam and its Malian civil society partners, 1  highlights the importance of four key priorities for reconstruction and development programmes. These are: the need for the equitable and transparent distribution of resources; improved citizen participation, especially women’s participation ; access to justice; and national reconciliation.  3 PRIORITY 1  AN EQUITABLE AND TRANSPARENT  ALLOCATION OF RESOURCES The combined impact of weak decentralization, corruption, and a lack of transparency regarding budget allocation and the distribution of aid has led to a widely-held belief that the country’s citizens are not receiving their fair share from the government. 2  However, if funds are disbursed as promised, the aid pledged at the Brussels donor conference in May 2013 represents a golden opportunity for ensuring development throughout Mali. To this end, the government and donors must look beyond a basic humanitarian response to the situation in the north by also tackling the chronic poverty in this region, while not forgetting the considerable development needs in the south. Monitoring the commitments made at the Together for a New Mali donor conference (Brussels, 15 May 2013) This conference saw donors make an official combined commitment of  € 3.2bn, of which  € 2.2bn corresponds to additional funding and  €1bn  to aid already committed. 3  This overall amount includes different types of commitments. Some donors made pledges for the region, others took into account projects which had started before the crisis, and others put forward pledges mostly made of loans (rather than grants). Other donors made available additional funds, to be given as grants, as a response to the new situation which had unfolded in Mali. This makes it difficult to assess the real amount of aid genuinely available for stabilization and reconstruction of the country.  An inter-ministerial committee to monitor the commitments made at the Brussels conference was set up on 29 October 2013. One of its aims is to mobilize resources (internal and external) according to the priorities set out in the Plan for the Sustainable Recovery of Mali 2013-2014. 4 In light of the corruption and patronage that has developed in Mali over the years, donors should increase their scrutiny over the use of funds and increase their transparency in aid commitments, disbursements, and project impacts.  4 RECOMMENDATIONS The delicate balance within the distribution of aid and domestic revenues requires an in-depth assessment of needs across the country, prioritizing sectors, and a good communications strategy informing citizens on how the budget is to be allocated and spent. The Malian government should: ã Make clear budget allocations for recovery in the north anddevelopment in the south. The government and donors have a sharedresponsibility to respond to needs across the country; ã Ensure a smooth transition between emergency humanitarianprogrammes and development programmes by providing funds aimedat improving the resilience of poor women and men to cope withcrises; ã Develop a communications strategy explaining budget allocations andexpenditures to communities, using traditional communicationchannels such as village storytellers and radio and televisionbroadcasts; ã Improve t ransparency and citizens’ involvement in resource allocation and budget processes, and provide more information on the expectedresults of budget spending and the resources mobilized. This shouldapply also to current projects already being implemented. Donors should: ã Ensure the transparency and accountability of all aid-relatedexpenditure, based on consultations with civil society and Maliancommunities; ã Establish a multi-donor website, consistent with International AidTransparency Initiative standards, aimed at consolidating informationon all development projects and international aid flows, monitoringdisbursements, and tracking results. MINUSMA should: ã Ensure that its work on stabilization and recovery supports theprinciples of good governance  –  transparency, accountability,inclusion, and citizen participation  –  in the development of allframeworks and programmes; ã Encourage the government to systematically consult with civil societyorganizations throughout the process of reconstruction, development,and re-establishing state institutions.
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