Rebuilding cross-border trust and dialogue in Mali and Niger through community radio

29-05-2020

ANDERAMBOUKANE For the first time, community leaders, the Defence and Security Forces and representatives of the justice system came together to talk openly on a radio programme about regional security issues that have fuelled growing mistrust among them.

As soon as the programme went to air, the telephone in the small recording room of Radio Dodia started ringing continuously. The impact was immediate, with an estimated 40,000 people listening to the programme in Mali and Niger, across the border.

Radio Dodia is one of the community radio stations in Anderamboukane in Mali chosen by the joint UN Women-UNODC project: Strengthening Cross-Border Community Dialogue Initiatives with Security and Justice Sector Actors for Peacebuilding in Mali and Niger, funded by the Peacebuilding Fund.

A total of seven local stations will broadcast debates between community representatives, defence and security forces and actors in the penal chain.

The cross-border project aims to establish dialogue and mediation through peacebuilding mechanisms such as round tables and forums between key justice actors of the defence and security forces and communities in Ménaka, Gao and Tillabéry in order to restore confidence between these actors and put an end to clashes.

"This is an area where livestock, agriculture and fishing are the main activities, but where there are conflicts in the region. Livestock pass through here and we find ourselves with a concentration of herders who come from all over," said Mr. Mohammed Samate, director of Radio Dodia.

    
   

For many years, intra- and inter-community conflicts related to the transhumance of animals and pasture management - have been a security challenge for towns on both sides of the border. Violent attacks by separatist rebel groups in Mali and extremist groups in Mali and Niger have aggravated the conflict.

"Grazing management is a problem. The radio has had to manage these conflicts between pastoralists. Thanks to our conflict management activities with UNODC, we broadcast the Pastoral Code and the Pastoral Law. This has helped people to understand the passage of animals, the boundaries of grazing areas, and to respect the laws on pastoral resource management," he continued.

UNODC's support helped bring all parties together. "As the project targets dangerous and difficult to access areas, and field meetings are difficult to organize, we found that the use of radio broadcasts was a good alternative," said the UNODC programme officer.

About 680,000 listeners were reached in Gao, Mali, and another 40,000 in Ouatagouna through a panel including the deputy mayor, the secretary of the prefect, the president of the women's association, the president of the youth association and a representative of the armed forces.

  

Similar programmes are planned in Niger (in the regions of Tillabéry (Department of Téra: Commune of Gorool, Department of Bankilaré: Commune of Bankilaré, and Department of Banibangou: Commune of Banibangou).

"The presence of UNODC made it possible for our discussions to garner a  lot of attention. It shows that, in practice, it is useful to collaborate with other countries and other experts in this field. It encourages us to organize more activities that can change the behaviour of communities," said Mr Samate.

COVID 19 in Conflict Zones

Radio Dodia also broadcast short messages on preventive measures to stop the spread of COVID-19, (read here).

Raising awareness about violence against women is also a key issue in these difficult times, she said, as women can become confined and more prone to domestic violence.

To ensure that peace-building continues, representatives of the security and justice sectors have been trained to ensure respect for human rights and gender mainstreaming in their activities. "Women and young people must be equipped to become actively involved in conflict prevention and resolution and in confidence building," she added.