ODA eligibility database




Sector or themePeace and security: preventing violent extremism
Provider countryUnited States
Recipient countryMali
Implementing agencyUSAID, Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI)
Budget (USD x 1000)1000
Purpose code15110 Public sector policy and administrative management

  • Since the 1970s, an extremely conservative Wahabbist organisation called ‘Ansar al Sunnah’ (Community of Helpers of the Sunna) has established itself on Kadji Island in Gao and extended along the Niger River. By the mid-nineties, the movement had spread to approximately 30 villages along the river with between 5,000 and 8,000 members. Some of these communities have isolated themselves in an effort to ensure religious purity. This self-imposed isolation has been accompanied by a marked neglect by the state and surrounding populations. The conflict of 2012 revealed that members of these communities were vulnerable to recruitment by violent extremists.
  • In order to prevent future radicalisation and recruitment by violent extremists of these communities which have already proven vulnerable, USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) began programming in Gounzoureye Commune in Gao in June 2014. Activities were guided by the following theory of change: if the social, political, economic marginalisation and isolation of communities in Gounzoureye Commune is reduced, then these communities will be less vulnerable to recruitment by violent extremist organisations. The USAID/OTI strategy included 1) responding to urgent needs in order to gain entry into the community and build trust (e.g., provision of potable water), 2) strengthening connections within and between communities in order to decrease marginalisation (e.g., intercommunity dialogues, intercommunal sport and cultural events), and 3) confronting extremist ideology head-on (e.g., reading and debate clubs, youth exchanges). OTI delivered more than twenty small grants to enable this strategy. Illustrative projects include the establishment of a training and cultural facility for youth from Gounzoureye’s thirteen villages, development of a Malian youth CVE agenda, dissemination of local language media programming and support for the Government of Mali’s internal CVE Strategy.
  • Overall, the project was part of a larger effort to help restore a sense of normalcy and reconciliation across northern Mali. It resulted in discernible increases in social cohesion and reconciliation, including improved integration of once-isolated communities and a reduction in religiously conservative attitudes and opinions.
  • This activity is deemed ODA-eligible. It demonstrates the non-coercive, intentional and targeted use of development assistance approaches to provide positive alternatives to those most at risk of violent extremism in partner countries (paragraph 116). Specifically, the Reporting Directives specify that work with civil society to prevent radicalisation and promote community engagement is included in ODA (paragraph 119).