Services: Capacity Building, Technical Assistance
Expertise: Civil Society Development
Northern Mali has a long history of ethnic and armed conflict which continues to this day. Some of these conflicts are fueled by instability. Others are a product of decades of governmental neglect, social inequalities, ethnic tension, and competition for scarce resources. Social conditions also contribute to the north's fragile status.
Walaikum is a two-year, USAID-funded project developed to address both active and nascent conflict in northern Mali. Walaikum is an Arabic phrase, meaning "and unto you," typically the response to the greeting "peace be unto you." Through Walaikum, World Education has used a multi-pronged, integrated, people-to-people approach to mobilize key segments of the population to collaborate together on common objectives.
The primary goal of Walaikum has been to create a sustainable network of agents of peace who will influence the behaviors of key actors in northern Mali to promote and choose peace. The four main actors are women and women's associations, youth and youth associations, religious, cultural, and spiritual leaders, and community radios. Through Walaikum, mothers, sisters, wives, and grandmothers have been empowered through women's associations to be lobbyists for peace. Youth, especially young men, are often enticed into conflict due to lack of opportunity, failure to see the value of peace, and the financial gains that accrue by being part of rebel groups. Walaikum has worked alongside community and religious leaders to involve them as active agents for peace. Finally, the project has engaged community radio to offer air time that actively promotes peace messages and discussions through their programs.