A quick overview of the KEY programme

In recent years, there have been a series of emergency relief responses in Northern and Central Mali. In 2016, the European Union (EU) decided to launch the KEY programme (‘key’ means ‘to stand up’ in the local language). This major programme aims to combine emergency relief and development to reinforce resilience in relation to food and nutritional insecurity among vulnerable groups in Mali. Five NGO consortiums were selected to implement the programme in the regions of Gao, Kidal, Ménaka, Moti, Taoudéni and Timbuktu. Two other organisations, Groupe URD and IRD (Institut de Recherche pour le Développement), were given the role of supporting and evaluating the programme as a whole. The programme involves 27 NGOs and numerous Malian institutions. It covers a huge, difficult area, made up of 49 communes in six regions in the North and Centre, many of which have very low population density.

Monitoring the context and the progress made on the programme

The third real-time evaluation of the KEY programme is currently underway and will continue over the next two months, with surveys in the six regions in the North and Centre. The general objective is to gather information about the progress being made in relation to the context and programme management. This helps to:

  • Improve activities and approaches;
  • Promote the sharing of information and collective learning, and create synergy between actors;
  • Identify potential adjustments and make recommendations to help achieve the expected results with a view to contributing to strategic management of the programme;
  • Report to the Malian authorities, the donors, the partners and the beneficiaries about the progress being made, notably in relation to accountability issues.

The third real-time evaluation will look at the implementation of the recommendations from the previous evaluations and will analyse the activities since the hunger gap and the rainy season, as well as governance issues related to the programme.

A fourth real-time evaluation will be carried out in the spring of 2020, followed by a final overall evaluation of the programme during the second semester.

Studies to learn lessons to be shared both internally and externally

The study on the provision of aid via consortiums and meta-consortiums has been completed and the report is available online. Based on lessons learned from the programme, a Quality reference framework has also been developed, outlining the key factors of a ‘good’ consortium.

Consortiums, which donors are very keen to develop, are increasingly common, but they often raise a lot of questions. Within the aid sector, a consortium provides a way for organisations to cooperate in a partnership.
This study, which was chosen by the actors involved in the KEY programme, aims to improve how consortiums function, based on the lessons learned in Mali. It aims to identify the added value and the constraints of operating in a consortium or a meta-consortium, and the factors that are necessary for this type of set-up. Beyond the Key programme, the study should be of interest to aid actors concerned by these issues.

The study on multi-purpose cash assistance is currently being carried out with the aim of establishing an overview of this type of programme, and reviewing good practices. It should also establish a shared basis for calculating cash transfer levels among all actors involved in Mali.

At the end of October, a consultation meeting related to the study brought together all the partners of the KEY consortium. A workshop was organised on the question of cash transfer levels, bringing together actors involved in humanitarian, development and social security cash transfers (the World Food Programme (WFP), the KEY Programme, the Food Security Cluster, and ECHO). In parallel, the WFP has continued its work defining the Minimum Expenditure Basket (also referred to as the ‘housewife’s basket’), which will also contribute to the ongoing discussions.

Reinforcing competencies and communicating

In a crisis context, implementing activities and allowing the population to achieve a level of resilience partly depends on the capacity of aid organisations to adapt and respond effectively to changes in the context at different levels. However, this ‘agile’ (or adaptive) management is not easy to implement in Mali. Humanitarian and development actors are faced with a constantly changing crisis, made up of periods of calm and outbreaks of violence, in an unstable context that is likely to continue in the long term. Development actors who engage in contexts like this are not in their comfort zone (development interventions based on a minimum level of stability), whereas humanitarian actors are faced with the difficulties of planning for a longer period than they are used to.

Groupe URD will therefore be running a training course for the organisations involved in the KEY programme in mid-January 2020 which will have two obectives: training the participants in ‘agile’ (or adaptive) management in a complex, unstable and protracted crisis context; and helping to establish approaches and tools that can help humanitarian and development actors to adapt and respond effectively to the instability and insecurity of the context in Mali.
Another training course will be programmed before the end of the project, the content of which will be defined depending on needs.

Lastly, in terms of communication, a series of videos are currently being created with the objective of sharing the lessons learned in this type of programme.