Asambleas Ciudadanos


the Citizens' Assembly in Mali



Capitalizing the first phase of Mali’s Citizens’ Assembly

Translations : français . Español . English

Introduction to the process

Mali’s Citizens’ Assembly is a process that aims at having a shared vision of the crisis that is stopping our country’s evolution and of the exit perspectives in terms of priorities and common strategies, sprung out from various cultural and socio-professional media and on all territorial scales in the country.

1.Questioning challenges 2.From dialog spaces to perspectives construction 3.Objectives and expected results 4.Instrumentation methodology 5.Capitalizing the first (local) phase 6.Who is organizing the process of Mali’s Citizens’ Assembly?

1. Questioning challenges

The existence of a crisis in all areas (social, political, economic, cultural, etc) has become undeniable when it comes to our society’s evolution, both in Mali and other African countries. The political, institutional and economic reforms put forward in the early 1990s in many countries from this continent far from answer the crisis which has come to settle down and which people have to face. The State and its administration’s monopoly on public action through the verticalization of development supply has had disastrous consequences on local dynamics. The internal and external challenges faced by our societies are enormous and many, after fifty years of independence. The choices made ‘from the top’ by governments from various periods, or even the conditions related to the help and preponderance of development logics, may both be considered the reasons why this crisis has come to stay.

Moreover, the situation currently confirmed in Mali is bitter and unsettling. It is characterized mainly by the following aspects:

Over a century of political, administrative and economic authoritarianism implemented by the colonial powers and maintained, despite our independence, by a paternalistic and centralized State, has managed to set limitations which today become difficulties which the Malian population has to face; Rural and urban communities within which conflict regulation modes no longer work, settle in non-stop mutation crises. Impoverishment, competence to access housing and financial resources and the inequalities that extend while natural resources decrease; Young people who become desperate and therefore try to find salvation abroad, and risk their lives doing it; A population that becomes urbanized at great speed within cities which are less and less manageable; An economy which settles further more on the informal. Finally, a State and public institutions dependant upon external resources who have find it harder and harder to manage the public sphere.

The challenges that these peoples have to face involve all social groups (men, women, youngsters), territory development scales and socio-professional layers. In order to reverse current tendencies, at a time when more and more actors focus on individual survival and identity withdrawal strategies, ‘a Mali’s Citizens’ Assembly’ may contribute to the creation of a collective shared vision of the our country’s future. This growing agreement process which starts from the actors’ experience, their social values, the commitments they make, etc. will allow to draft the strategies to be implemented to abandon this predicament.

2. From dialog spaces to perspectives construction

Mali’s Citizens’ Assembly is an open and participatory collective construction process upon which dialog, exchange and cooperation relations between local actors from a community, region and country are established. These relations are not prioritized and are encouraged by a common ethics and aspiration: Building Mali from local perspectives. In order to achieve this, the process contributes to the creation of opportunities to talk about the shared challenges in the various geo-cultural spaces of the country, so as to shared and discuss the different actors’ experiences.

In the pursuit of this objective, Mali’s Citizens’ Assembly mobilizes several actors from various sectors, namely: religious and customary chiefs, political figures, business managers, rural and urban producers, interest group activists and trade unionists, students, teachers, researches, artists, government employees, etc. These various actors’ participation in the debates should result in a shared diagnosis and the construction of proposals and strategies of agreed change.

3. Objectives and expected results

The process of Mali’s Citizens’ Assembly aims at establishing a dialog between the perspectives of the different socio-cultural and professional layers within the country in order to harvest priorities and, above all, agreed-on strategies which will allow to set the foundation to build a collective project within which all Malian citizens will identify themselves.

The results expected from the said process are:
- the identification of those common values, challenges and commitments which are rooted in the Malian peoples’ will to co-inhabit;
- the achievement of the main mutations expected by these peoples;
- the construction of shared perspectives towards a development respectful of a geographical and socio-professional diversity of the actors’ situations and viewpoints.

Mali’s Citizens’ Assembly, which is pursuing the formulation of a collective project for new perspectives, will take place for several weeks and in three stages (circle, region and national).

These products are expected by the end of the process:
- a book of proposals for each chosen circle;
- a book of proposals for each of the regions and the District of Bamako;
- a national synthesis which would be entitled: “Building Mali from local perspectives”.

4. Instrumentation methodology

The local level is the most relevant stage to activate the implementation of a legitimate local governance; that is why the process of Mali’s Citizens’ Assembly will begin on the communal level and extend to the national level, going through the regional one.

The exercise will involve 48 municipalities in 22, out of the 46, Circles in the 8 Regions of the country and in the District of Bamako. Here, the exercise will involve the six municipalities that make this district up. The proportion of rural municipalities and urban ones was determined in terms of the sociological, demographic and cultural characteristics of each Circle. The intersection between the country’s various cultural areas and the administrative organization allowed to maintain this sample of circles and municipalities.

The process of Mali’s Citizens’ Assembly will develop from meetings and workshops in the following phases:

  • Phase 1: local level (municipalities and circles’ meetings): This phase first takes place within the municipalities and then closes on the circles level through a transversal analysis of the municipalities’ words. The number of participants per Circle varies in connection to the number of municipalities kept within each circle: 30 to 12 people. Length of the meetings: 1 day for each municipality and circle meeting.
  • Phase 2: regional level Both thematic and collegiate approaches are taken into account. The second type is included in the selection of thematic actors. The inter-local characteristic of the regional development challenges is very active so that institutional actors (politicians and government employees) associate to the drafting of regional books, especially in terms of each theme. Number of participants per Region ; Formed groups: 50 people ; Proposals Committees from the Circles: 3 members of the Proposals Committees from each chosen Circle ; Length of the meeting: 2 days (with thematic workshops, each of which will gather as diverse a group of actors as possible). For the District of Bamako: Representatives of the municipalities: 60 people (10 X 6) ; Formed groups: 50 people.
  • Phrase 3: national level  The national meeting will group delegates from national socio-professional committees and national thematic groups. Based on the diagnosis and proposals which sprung up from the regional meetings, a cross-sectional analysis prior to the national meeting will allow to organize thematic workshops which will summon as wide a diversity of actors as possible. The national document entitled “Building Mali from local perspectives” will result from this national meeting. Number of participants at the national meeting: Groups formed on the national level: 100 people (20 X 5) ; Delegates from regions: 27 people (3 X 9) ; length of the national meeting: 2 days, (1 day for thematic workshops and 1 day for the national meeting).
  • Phase 4: document feedback on the circle level : A feedback phase of the “Building Mali from local perspectives” national document is proposed on the circle level so that the local actors can validate it and apply it locally.
  • Phase 5: document feedback on the national level : after the document feedback on the circle level, a feedback phase will be organized on the national level. This national level document feedback will gather actors from the district and the regions.

5.Capitalization of Phase 1 (local)

The first step of the process began in the regions of Sikasso and Ségou, from September 2 – 17, 2009 to later continue in the regions of Koulikoro and Kayes from December 10 – 20, 2009. Twenty-four (24) municipalities and twelve (12) circles have already been covered. The field activities were directed by two field teams made up as follows: one supervisor, a team leader and two note-takers. The team members were trained to use Desmodo.

People’s desire, enthusiasm and commitment to participate in the process could be spotted during the meetings, which contributed to a wide mobilization around the initiative. About one thousand delegates took part Communal and Circle assemblies, and they represented customary and religious authorities, administrative authorities, associations and socio-professional organizations who answered to the administrative organization and the geo-cultural logics of the municipalities and circles. During the first two stages developed in the regions of Sikasso, Ségou, Kayes and Koulikoro, twelve Books of Proposals were drafted – one for each circle. The documents that resulted from the meetings are a diagnosis of the local challenges in terms of ascertainments and challenges, social values, proposals and hypothesis of strategies of change (actions or searches to be carried out or deepened, types of cooperation to be built, etc.) and perspectives towards the construction of a collective project.

Summary of the cross-sectional analysis of the debates: values

People need to take into account the values and fundamental principles of the organization of societies. In fact, the hiding of values of solidarity, respect towards the common good, equality, among others, has in these peoples’ opinion set them adrift many times. This shows the failure of the development policies and reforms undertaken which face various uses.

People’s commitments

These people’s commitment toward their community’s development was shown strongly during the assemblies. In terms of cross-sectional readings, the following commitments can be pointed out: Participating in the administration of public spaces, specially by supporting the management of communal and circle public issues, tax payment, questioning representatives about the management of public affairs, participation in public reports and so on. Commitment to respect society’s values as the foundation to build perspectives, to manage public issues and social relations so as to guarantee transparency and respect of the common good. Participatory commitment to accompany and implement local development actions, Promotion of Inter-community and cooperation development.


In spite of the many efforts made by the authorities and the civil society through development organisms, a certain persistence can be deduced, which translates into challenges lacking adequate answers:
- The provision of basic public services within the de-centralization network translates into an inadequacy and inefficiency of the supply: sanitary care, high supply cost, etc.
- The incoherence of school and university teaching in terms of labor demand,
- The little understanding and poor handling of the challenges from democracy – closeness to democratic values, forms of organization, administration of the country and local communities
- The lack of private opportunities to value local production due to a lack of public policies which attempt to value the informal sector.

Proposals and strategies

The proposals and strategies are articulated to build and emphasize values as paradigms of change:
- An increase in the number of sanitary centers, the provision of supplies, qualified personnel and ways to evacuate ill people (one ambulance per municipality); and the valuing of health social security;
- The selection of teachers, the strengthening of their continuous education, the adequacy of the training programs to the market needs, the increase in the number of school infrastructures and the adoption of appropriate pedagogical methods and approaches; Favoring a wide understanding of democracy and the challenges connected to the on-going political reforms;
- The legitimacy of traditional authorities is an efficient means to re-dynamize the places of socialization, in order for which there has to be a strengthening of their abilities through their training on the challenges set by de-centralization, democracy, etc. _

6. Who organize the process of Mali’s Citizens’ Assembly?

Mali’s Citizens’ Assembly is directed by the Djoliba Center with the methodological support of the Malian Alliance to re-found governance in Africa (ARGA/ Mali) and it receives technical and financial support from the Foundation for Human Progress (FPH).

The DJOLIBA Center is a Malian national rights association founded in 1964, recognized and registered on February 22, 1992 under the number: 147/MAT/DNAT. It fosters the strengthening of the abilities of the civil society in Mali and Africa to promote justice, democracy, peace, economic, social and cultural development, training, documentation, capitalization, publishing and reflection.

The Malian Alliance to re-found governance in Africa (ARGA/ Mali) is a dialog network which gathers actors, whether these be Malian or not, organizations and human resources in order to debate governance issues in Mali and Africa. Created on November 1, 2008 and identified as ARGA/ Mali, the Malian Alliance to re-found governance in Africa obtained its legal capacity on December 10, 2008 under number: 246/MATCL-DNI. Its aim is to create a space for initiative exchange and experimentation which stem from civil society organizations to found a democratic governance in Africa.

The Foundation for Human Progress is an independent foundation of Swiss rights.







1st stage of the Malian Assembly


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