The Center of Mali: an ecological, economic, sociological, cultural and cultic continuum in the process of disintegration?

In a study published this month by the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue, major issues in the central part of the country have often been highlighted. Some aspects summarize this study and show once again the central role of the center of the country in the face of the different problems. The particularly important place of the Mopti region is also highlighted

In this same line, this document evokes certain major problems that are at the center of the instability in the Center of Mali.

The Center of Mali: an ecological and economic unit that is disintegrating?

It should be remembered at this level that the Center of Mali is a life and human displacements zone but also of large numbers of animal species in particular. We are talking about a reservoir of animal populations. Local reserves have been the subject of international studies in this respect on several occasions. This is an environment favorable to the presence of certain species, although a large part of these species are now threatened with extinction. The movements of the fauna in this zone make the center of Mali a significant biological and economic corridor.

In line with the first reasoning, the Mopti region remains an important economic player for the northern regions, specifically the livestock sector. The Mopti region is a breeding area. As such, throughout history, the region has supplied the southern, northern Mali and other countries of the sub-region by river and road. Far from fading, this supply continues and it still plays a major economic role between southern and northern Mali.

Moreover, the economic weight of the “exchanges” between the Northern regions and the border countries such as Algeria and Niger is not negligible. Especially since some products are transported from Kidal, then from Gao to Ségou, even Bamako through the center of the country. This is the case of sugar, pasta from Algeria.

The military and political engagement of “Fulani” groups or the risk of a “regionalization” of the crisis

In the study carried out by the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue, several risks were identified. It’s mainly about the risk of regional claims by the Fulani.

1 The social and economic problems already existing and aggravated since 2012. The extreme isolation of certain localities, which does not allow a good connection to the main supply routes. The problem of education, as in the north of the country, schools are experiencing repetitive strikes. Also the security problem that is omnipresent.

A first element in this direction is the engagement of certain groups claiming to be Fulani in military action. As such, several attacks on other ethnic communities living in the area have been identified and publicized. Some analysts will say that these are isolated acts that are essentially part of the issues of living together between shepherds and farmers. However, these groups claiming to be Fulani have armed themselves. This militarization was publicized by the goodwill of the groups.

On the other hand, these groups of demands have made it clear that they are part of a political action, in particular through international media. This aspect is illustrated by the content of a reported speech. In this speech, we find the will to defend the interests of the Fulani community, even the “Fulani identity”. This implies a quest for political recognition, particularly through military means.

Thus, taking into account these two elements constituting a territorial and political claim seems to be increasingly important. This, without forgetting the religious demands, at the head of which would be a “mysterious” Ahmadou Koufa. This engagement is like a rebellion that tends towards social recognition. So there is a risk of regionalization.

To conclude, as we have seen above, but briefly and without quantitative elements, the Center of Mali is not limited to the Mopti region. It is indeed a territory whose mastery by the State is paramount to ensure territorial continuity, territorial integrity and national social cohesion.
By Mohamed Maiga
Social engineer, intervening on economic and social policies. Member of CRD-Mali (Cadre de reflexion pour le Development-Mali).

Translated by Mahaitou Ibrahim Maiga