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The fall of a donor darling: the role of aid in Mali's crisis*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 August 2014

Isaline Bergamaschi*
Departamento de Ciencia Política, Universidad de los Andes, Facultad de Ciencias Sociales, Edificio Franco, Carrera 1 n°18a-12 Bogotá, Colombia


This article offers a political economy perspective on the Malian crisis with a focus on aid and donor practices. The argument is two-fold. On the one hand, aid consolidated a regime that grew increasingly discredited, so that aid and donors – voluntarily or otherwise – contributed to create the pre-2012 context of fragility. On the other hand, this structural gap has created a state of affairs that provided some impulse and support to putschists and insurgent groups. It explores four channels through which this has happened in practice. External funding agencies have sponsored what was perceived as President Amadou Toumani Touré's ‘mismanagement’ of the situation in the north and the degradation of governance. In addition, donors exerted weak control over policies and ignored signals of growing popular dissatisfaction with ATT. Finally, when they tried to put pressure on governments, donors chose highly controversial issues and have enacted unpopular conditionalities, which have had destabilising effects.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2014 

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The fieldwork missions carried out in Bamako in June and September 2013 were funded by the Universidad de los Andes. The French embassy to Mali also provided funding as part of their support to a collective research project dealing with the elections in Mali in 2013. I thank Bruce Whitehouse and my colleagues at the Department of Political Science for their comments on an earlier version of this text, and am solely responsible for remaining errors.


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The fall of a donor darling: the role of aid in Mali's crisis*
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The fall of a donor darling: the role of aid in Mali's crisis*
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