Strengthening Security Governance in North and Central Mali


Security force-community engagement in Mali is extremely fragile and, in some areas, non-existent. The general population and security forces remain highly suspicious of one another within their respective communities and operational environments. Armed conflict and consequent occupation of northern Mali in 2012 dramatically impacted social cohesion between different socio-political and ethnic groups, and citizens continue to hold strong feelings of abandonment as a result of the withdrawal of security forces and government institutions during the rebellion of 2012. Violence has now spread to Mali’s central Mopti and Segou regions, aggravating pre-existing conflict drivers, amplifying distrust, and stymying effective engagement between communities and security forces.


With support from Canadian Global Affairs’ Peace and Stabilisation Operations Program (PSOP), this project supports conflict transformation and promotes good governance in central and northern Mali by building trust, dialogue, and accountability among conflict affected communities, security forces, and local authorities. The project began with an assessment informed by over 60 interviews conducted over three weeks in the Mopti, Timbuktu, and Segou regions. This field research identified 11 drivers of poor security force-community engagement and produced 33 recommendations for Mali’s government, local communities, and international donors to improve security sector-community relationships. Subsequent work convened key government officials, security sector officials, civil society, and community members to address mutual security challenges and develop responses through a series of tabletop excercises to increase trust and coordination between security forces and the communities they serve.


Strategic Capacity Group (SCG) is a nonprofit dedicated to enhancing the ability of the United States and its partners to build strategic security sector capacity both at home and abroad. SCG assists donor and recipient governments to assess institutional capacity, identify gaps, develop and implement solutions, and improve the sustainability and impact of reform.

SCG’s Security Sector Reform Program aims to build human and institutional capacity for effective and accountable security sector forces and institutions. SCG’s work is conducted through:

  • Sharing security sector best practices through national and regional SSR platforms and networks that convene security sector stakeholders and empower “change agents” at key institutions across governments, connecting them with like-minded counterparts;
  • Producing assessments of security sector capacity, identifying gaps, and developing strategic policy and programmatic recommendations;
  • Training and educating donors to design and implement SSR programs and local stakeholders to design, implement, and advocate for reform within their governments; and
  • Advising governments and donor organizations to conceptualize SSR programs and build capacity to implement them.

"The tabletop was an eye opener for me and enabled me to see the security forces as partners and helped me establish communication links to high-ranking officials." 

-Community Forum Member, Mopti