Two years after his native Mali was thrown into turmoil following a rebellion by Northern Armed Groups in 2012, Alwaly joined the USAID/OTI-funded Mali Transition Initiative as a project specialist. In this role he has engaged with traditionally closed, conservative and marginalized communities — opening them to international intervention in unprecedented ways.
The rebellion in 2012 sparked a chain of violence. A coup d’etat and terrorist attacks followed and French military efforts to expel Islamic militants meant foreign troops on the ground. The Economic Community of West African States contributed military might and United Nations peacekeepers soon arrived.
Alwaly joined MTI to support the country’s transition out of conflict, rebuild in affected communities and counter violent extremism through inclusion of marginalized groups.
He succeeded in convincing members of the traditionally closed off Gounzoureye commune to work with international donors and became the first outsider in decades to interact with the Wahhabi village of Kadji-Dar-As-Salaam.
He’s helped to build market gardens and income generating programs, rehabilitate water systems and even support book clubs.
In this Devex video interview Alwaly described what it’s like to engage with conservative and conflict-ravaged communities on the ground and what it takes to build successful relationships.
Jeff is a global development reporter for Devex. Based in Washington, DC, he covers multilateral affairs, U.S. aid and international development trends. He has worked with human rights organizations in both Senegal and the United States, and prior to joining Devex worked as a production assistant at National Public Radio. He holds a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree in international relations and French from the University of Rochester.
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