The results speak for themselves: 17 terrorist suspects arrested, 200 civil society actors trained and some 300,000 people reached through community radio to stimulate cross-border dialogue between communities and the security and justice sector.

In just two years, UNODC and the Peacebuilding Fund have strengthened community dialogue in Mali and Niger through training sessions with key groups and members of the public, particularly actors at the countries’ borders, on the roles and mandates of the Defence and Security Forces (FDS) and criminal justice actors, as well as on redress, reporting and referral, and advocacy.

Training sessions to build the capacity of civil society groups, women’s organisations, youth organisations and community radios took place in Tillabery (Niger) and Gao and Menaka (Mali) between 18-19 and 27-28 February 2021.

Representatives of the Governor of Gao and the Mayor of Ouatagouna said they were pleased to see about 60 civil society leaders trained in community dialogue for peacemaking, praising UNODC’s efforts. Similar praise was received from the 60 beneficiaries, who felt that with their new skills and knowledge, they would be able to play a greater role in security and strengthening social cohesion at the community level.

Other successes on the ground due to improved community dialogue were the arrest of a soldier and three civilians in Tera, a department in Niger, on charges of rape. These arrests were possible thanks to coordination between the president of the court in Tera, a G5 Sahel commander and a female FDS who alerted a women’s association working on gender-based violence.