BAMAKO, July 16, 2014 - Sprawled along on the banks of the Niger River, 650 kilometers upriver from Bamako, lies the city of Mopti. One of Mali’s largest secondary cities, Mopti has a growing population of more than 110,000 inhabitants and an equally rising incidence of poverty.
Like many Malian cities, Mopti’s remote location isolates it from the country’s administrative center, making development and decentralization a real challenge. Mopti receives few financial transfers from the capital for infrastructure investments, severely limiting the local government’s ability to maintain existing infrastructure and deliver basic public services.
In the wake of the 2012 coup d’état, Mali seeks to strengthen the institutional capacities of secondary cities such as Mopti, Sikasso, and Segou, in addition to those of Bamako to improve governance, infrastructure, delivery of social services, and civil society participation at a local level.
Through the framework of the Urban Local Government Support Project, financed by a 70 million dollar World Bank credit, Mali will work to empower its municipalities so that they are not only better structured and more accountable, but also so that they can conceive and implement development programs according to the input of their constituents.
In order to encourage efficiency and transparency within local governments, the project allots performance-based investments grants that are disbursed in installments to municipalities only when they have proven their ability to deliver a public service or structure. The better a city performs according to independent performance evaluations, the larger their grant is for the next year.
Progress is already underway as Mali’s municipal governments have begun hosting town halls with community leaders and civil society representatives to identify and implement key infrastructure needs such as the restoration of markets, the construction of roads and gutters, and the extension of public street light networks.