“Where there is peace, everybody wins” – Fanta K. Traore

“An be gnokon bolo” - Young people unite for a stable Mali

By Joyce Brandful
Fanta K Traore fait partie du groupe âgé de 13 à 17 ans.  Avec les 18-35 ans, les 136 adolescents et jeunes hommes et femmes de Fakola constituent la première ligne de bénéficiaires du Fonds pour la Consolidation de la Paix (PBF)
UNICEF Mali/2021/Bagayoko
29 April 2021

In Sikasso, a region bordering Cote d’Ivoire in southern Mali, local conflicts are frequent within and among communities.  Fakola is a suburb (Commune) located less than 60 kilometres from the border it shares with its neighbour, and Fakola fell victim to external aggression in 2015.  It is one of the three districts selected in the region in July 2020 to engagement with some 136 young people to promote social cohesion.  Fanta K Traore is a member of the group aged 13 to 17.  Together with those aged 18 to 35, the 136 male and female adolescents and young people in Fakola constitute the first line of beneficiaries of the Peace Building Fund (PBF). They are to champion social cohesion among their peers and community members for peaceful co-existence.  

Le chef du département des affaires de la jeunesse dans la région de Sikasso, Attaher Sofiane
UNICEF Mali/2021/Bagayoko

The Head of Department for Youth affairs in Sikasso region is Attaher Sofiane and he is coordinating this joint UN programme in three localities. “We have adopted the principle of putting the youth at the centre of this project because it is theirs, it is for them” he insists.   In line with the slogan for the PBF “We are together” he has been working together with all the stakeholders, from the region all the way down the district to make sure everyone is adequately informed and involved.  “From the word go, our meetings have included the government departments - Reconciliation and solidarity, Promotion of women, children and Family, Education, as well as the partner NGO Search for Common Ground (SFCG) that will be training the beneficiaries.

réunions comme celle-ci dans le district de Fakola suivent également le même modèle de maintien de l’attention et de l’engagement de tous les membres de la communauté.
UNICEF Mali/2021/Bagayoko

At the decentralized level, the meetings like this one in Fakola District also follow the same pattern of keeping everybody in the community informed and engaged.  Here, the community has set up a working group made up of the administrative and political authorities, the village Chief and his Advisors as well as representatives of the youth. The young people have both their male and female representatives on the committee.    The meetings, chaired by the Mayor of Fakola or his Deputy, are opportunities for intergenerational dialogues.  For now, the meeting take place on the premises of the Mayor’s office.

Mamadou Konate, qui est déjà secrétaire administratif du Conseil communautaire de la jeunesse, a été choisi pour faire la liaison entre la jeunesse et les autorités et superviser la mise en œuvre du programme à Fakola.
UNICEF Mali/2021/Brandful

After a series of consultations, the local authorities of Fakola and the youth delegates agreed on “manager” for the programme.  Mamadou Konate who already serves as Administrative Secretary of Community Youth Council was chosen to liaise between the youth and the authorities and to oversee the implementation of the programme in Fakola.  One of his very first tasks was to gather all the young people in this community for them to identify a place for regular meetings and other activities  “Until now, we can only meet in people’s compounds, and  this has to be in small groups, so not everybody can participate or even receive information first hand” explains Mamadou Konate.

«Nous respectons le choix des jeunes.  Les jours de marché sont ici le lundi, nous devons donc nous assurer que les activités des jeunes ont lieu les autres jours, comme le dimanche par exemple. » explique Daouda Souri Doumbia, le chef du village.
UNICEF Mali/2021/Bagayoko

The young people settled on this structure to be used for their meeting and activities. It is an old building that was put up by the state. It served as the community youth house many years ago, but it has not been used for the last decade or so, and it is in a state of disrepair. The building is located right next to the Fakola market, but that does not constitute a source of concern for the village chief.  “We respect the choice made by the young people.  The market days are here Mondays, so we have to make sure that the youth activities take place on other days, like Sundays for example” explains Daouda Souri Doumbia, the village Chief.

« Nous apprenons de ce projet que nos décisions doivent être fondées sur des consultations avec nos membres, mais aussi que nous devons évaluer pour vérifier ce qui est possible de faire et combien cela coûtera », dit Mamadou, qui s’entretient avec les membres de son comité.
UNICEF Mali/2021/Bagayoko

“We are learning from this project that our decisions must be based consultations with our members, but also that we must evaluate to check what is possible to do and how much it will cost” says Mamadou, as he confers with his committee members.  The young people received a set of criteria from the Department of youth affairs, and they used it to select the building and to assess its current state.  “We took the report of the evaluation to the authorities, and we are ready to mobilise the young people in this village, to provide manpower for the repairs”.

« Nous avons choisi cet ancien bâtiment pour deux raisons principales : il est au centre du village, afin que tout le monde puisse l’atteindre facilement de n’importe où dans cette communauté », explique Mamadou Y Konate
UNICEF Mali/2021/Bagayoko

“We chose this old building because of two main reasons:  it is in the centre of the village, so everybody can reach it easily from anywhere in this community” says Mamadou Y Konate.  What is more, it is the biggest shelter in the whole village, so can meet everyone at the same time here.” 

Sidiki Traoré nous informe que « nous attendons que l’ONG commence à nous former à la prévention des conflits pour que nous commencions le travail de sensibilisation avec les autres.  Après cela, nous, les jeunes, pouvons organiser nos événements, nos cérémonies et nos spectacles culturels ici »
UNICEF Mali/2021/Bagayoko

The young committee members are all eager to see the repairs begin on this building.  Sidiki Traore informs us that “We are waiting for the NGO to start training us in the conflict prevention for us begin the sensitization work with the others.  After that we young people can organize our events, ceremonies and cultural shows here”.  Part of the UN Peace Building Fund has been allocated for the rehabilitation and equipment of the structure to be used as the community Youth Centre - When habilitated, it will serve as a meeting place for the entire community, and not just the youth.

« Mais ce sont les jeunes eux-mêmes qui alimentent les tensions », explique Karim Kone, adjoint au maire de Fakola.
UNICEF Mali/2021/Bagayoko

The strife between and among the communities are often triggered around resources – who has the authority to grant access, and who controls them.  “But it the young people themselves who fuel the flames” says Karim Kone the Deputy Mayor of Fakola. “We don’t have a radio station in this village, so are grateful to this programme which offering us a place where we can all we meet and talk and ask questions.   Everyone will get the information at the same time… We must all have the same understanding at every stage … understand why it is necessary to support and help each other to protect and manage the resources we have for everyone’s benefit.” concludes the Deputy Mayor.

« les meilleures idées devraient venir des personnes âgées ici … pour nous aider les jeunes à contribuer au développement que nous voulons tous voir dans un an, voire dans cinq ans. S’ils se comprennent les uns les autres et vivent en paix, ils peuvent être l’exemple que nous pouvons suivre. Là où il y a la paix, tout le monde gagne », conclut Fanta K Traore.
UNICEF Mali/2021/Bagayoko

The young people of Fakola know they have a role to play in the development of their community.  Fanta suggests however that “the best ideas should to come from the older people here … to help us young people to contribute to the development that we all want to see in one year, or even in five years from now. If they show understanding for each other and live peacefully, they can be the example for us to follow.”  “Where there is peace, everybody wins,” concludes Fanta K Traore.