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Since 2012, increased focus on Mali

Key word: Western Africa /

Groupe URD has been sollicited a great deal since the last political crisis in Mali in 2012, and the agro-climatic and food crisis.

 Needs analysis, risk analysis and contextual analysis

As early as February 2013, Groupe URD carried out a real-time evaluation and needs analysis in Mali for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Crisis Centre. This produced an analysis of the context and the risks and precautions to be taken at the operational level. It focused on short term issues to meet people’s needs (humanitarian action, coordination, rapid re-establishment of basic services), on the premises of LRRD, the crucial issue of re-establishing governance in the North, and identifying risks linked both to the situation and programme implementation methods. The evaluation proposed some areas to work on and made some recommendations.

In order to provide a general analysis and monitoring of the humanitarian context for organizations in the field, Groupe URD also produced a document to share lessons about the financial commitments of donors and the activities of NGOs in the Sahel and principally in Mali.

Since the series of violent events which led to the deployment of military forces in the North of the country, humanitarian action in Northern Mali has been faced with a certain number of challenges, the first of which being the difficulty of gaining access to vulnerable people and protecting humanitarian space. To reflect on these central questions, OCHA and Groupe URD organized a workshop in February 2014 which brought together political, military, development and humanitarian organizations. A small group was formed after this workshop which submitted an action plan to the Humanitarian Country Team (United Nations, NGOs and the ICRC as an observer) based on the recommendations made during the workshop.

 Mali at the crossroads between emergency relief and development

To help humanitarian and development organisations during the transition period that Mali is currently going through, the Groupe URD team also helped to organize and took part in a seminar on LRRD in Mali organized by the EU Delegation, with representatives of DG ECHO, DG DEVCO and all the technical and financial partners (Bamako, 19-20 March 2014).

The study carried out by the World Bank on sparsely populated areas in North Mali aimed to understand and measure the impact of basic services provided by the State, both at the individual and collective levels, and to identify the options which are susceptible to guarantee effective and fair access, while promoting social cohesion in Mali.

At the same time, an evaluation of agro-ecological programmes supported by Terre et Humanisme in the Gao region was conducted in March 2014 in order to, amongst other things, learn lessons about managing this kind of development programme in a crisis situation.

Mali was one of the case studies in the external monitoring project which focused on humanitarian programmes funded by DFID in the Sahel, which was carried out in February 2014 in Mopti, Timbuktu and Gao.

Groupe URD and the Malian team of Sahel Consult also collaborated on the final evaluation of the OXFAM project, “Humanitarian response to the consequences of the conflict in Mali – 2013/2014”. The evaluation analysed the activities and key indicators related to food security, WASH, gender and protection in Bourem Cercle and Gao region. At the beginning of 2016, Groupe URD also provides organisational support to Caritas Mali for its relief operations by reinforcing its operational and emergency preparedness capacities.

 Promoting collective learning in the field

With the goal of promoting collective learning, a project involving Iterative Evaluations with Mini Seminars (IEMS) was carried out in 2014 in the regions affected by the Mali crisis (Mauritania, Niger and Burkina Faso). The project included operational and strategic reviews, analysis of monitoring systems, and the evaluation of programmes. Key recommendations were widely disseminated for the aid community as a whole and exchange and discussion workshops were organized at the end of each field visit.

In particular, the conference "Mali: after Algiers", which took place in Bamako at the end of the year (15 December 2014), was an opportunity to review the strategic planning of the different organizations involved, in the light of the ongoing negotiations between the Malian government and the armed groups of the North.

The IEMS concept, field Observatories and real-time evaluations (RTEs), developed and tested by Groupe URD, aim to improve the effectiveness of learning mechanisms to improve practices.
They help to identify and promote good practices at the right time and in the right place, both from a strategic and technical point of view. They therefore allow donors and implementing agencies to ensure that changes take place where they are needed, and that they benefit crisis-affected people. Donors like USAID, DFID and Irish Aid currently support these projects by funding Groupe URD’s activities in the Malian region and Haiti.