HWPL’s “We Are One (WAO)” Project Spreads Throughout All Regions of Mali

One People, One Goal, One Faith Realized by the Citizens of Mali

The “We Are One (WAO)” project which began in Mali in March 2021 is currently spreading nationwide with active participation from the civil organizations in each region of Mali.

Mali is a country that has suffered numerous casualties from the decade-long civil war and terrorism. In the past, Mali has shown hope for infinite growth as a leading country of African democracy. However, it has fallen into being one of Africa’s poorest countries due to the revolt of extremist forces in the northern region, ethnic conflict in the central region, and severe corruption in the political circles. This has caused surrounding countries as well as the international community feel much pity and regret.

The Mali government has led several peace agreements with rebel forces to overcome the current situation, but they became useless and failed to resolve fundamental issues such as terrorism, conflict, and rebellion.

Mr. Nouhoun Diarra, Mayor of Segou, said that such failure was due to “bad governance.” He emphasized that substantive implementation is needed to overcome Mali’s current situation, not another peace agreement. He also said that it is time for citizens to participate actively.

The WAO project is a peace initiative designed with the cooperation of HWPL and the representatives of Mali civil groups to reflect on the current situation in Mali. This project, in which its starting point can be found at the SDGs Peace Seminar organized by HWPL’s Northern Seoul & Gyeonggi branch in November 2020, was established by the representatives of the Mali civil groups who attended the seminar. These representatives organized the project executive team and held various discussions.

For this project, they divided eight regions of Mali into three zones. They invited the representatives of civil groups from each zone and held seminars to educate them on the SDGs. They also organized dialogues in which citizens participated to discuss the cause of the conflict in each zone and its solution. The voices of citizens gathered through this discussion will be documented and submitted as a policy proposal to the government.

In March and June of this year, the project was successfully implemented in the northern and southern regions. The representatives of civil groups in attendance discussed the cause and its solution based on the theme “Rebellion & Terrorism” and “Inter-ethnic conflict.” They have come to the conclusion that a platform where citizens and the government can gather in one place to discuss the solution is needed in order to solve problems that the country faces.

Mr. Abdoulhamid Ag Watane, the coordinator of Gourma and co-organizer of the WAO project said, “The We Are One project examines the causes that prevent national cohesion and peace and proposes an effective solution.” He added that the WAO project would give great “synergy of actions in favor of peace and social cohesion, contributing significantly to building a Mali without conflict.”

Mr. Mohamed Maouloud Maiga, the former NGO Collaborator of the Parliament of Mali, said, “We may not speak the same language, we may not come from the same regions, we may have different histories, but we must agree to move in the same direction, which is the direction of peace, the direction to end wars.” He also said, “Our expectation for the WAO project is to conduct a platform where civil society and the government meet to discuss the problems of Mali and to find peaceful resolutions.”

Meanwhile, HWPL has drafted a policy proposal document with the project executive team to propose the Dialogue for Peace and Social Cohesion. Starting with the signatures from the project executive team, they plan to launch a large-scale signature campaign which begins in August. Through the campaign, we hope that the WAO project will be established as a policy, and that sustainable peace will be realized in Mali.