In rural parts of Mali, there are numerous conflicts between livestock farmers and agriculturists about exploitation of agricultural land and pasture land. The struggle for the right to use land is a major challenge, and abusive exploitation of gold mines and the problem of deforestation are also formidable challenges. Making Decentralization Work is a national association comprising various civil society organizations. Its aim is to raise awareness among local actors about the principles of good environmental governance. Its goal is to make local communities responsible for questions relating to management of natural resources and land in the three regions of Mali (Nara, Bancoumana, and Yanfolila).
Platforms for exchanges: taking different concerns into account
To achieve this, the MDW network proposes places of exchange which will enable citizens to contact their representatives about environmental questions and issues linked to development of the areas concerned. Following these meetings, the protagonists will propose specific measures to deal with environmental issues. To raise awareness among local communities, the MDW network also organises public hearings on abusive exploitation of gold mines and inappropriate use of wood for fuel. Good practice in the area of governance is also noted, and information about it is provided on the MDW website.
For example, the cattle market of the village of Siékoro and its river port are now well looked after by local communities who are responsible for its management. Relations between the mayor's office and local communities have also improved since the mayor's office agreed to fishermen's representation on the commission studying village development measures. The fishermen have said that they are pleased that their concerns are being taken into account in village development.
A legal framework for dealing with conflicts
The MDW network also supports establishment of local agreements between communities and administrative authorities. The agreements are proposed by villagers themselves and by communes and relate to management of forests, ponds, pasture land, etc. These agreements are an effective instrument for preventing conflicts connected with use of land. Similar agreements will subsequently be worked out in the framework of cross-border land management, notably in countries such as Guinea and Burkina Faso.