Increasingly, the demilitarization of post-conflict societies is being viewed as an essential factor in the establishment of public order and the rule of law in communities emerging from the scourge of violent civil conflict. The disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) of ex-combatants and recuperation of small arms and ammunition typically latent in post-conflict communities is considered vital in avoiding relapse into organized violence or the diffusion of illicit activities such as banditry, extortion and trafficking. As a result, over the past decade, DDR and weapon collection schemes administered by international agencies together with national governments and local communities have become commonplace elements of approaches to post-conflict reconstruction.

In September 2002, UNIDIR, with funding from the Government of Japan, initiated a two-year research project to study selected "weapons in exchange for community development assistance" (WfD) programmes carried out three in countries: Albania, Cambodia and Mali. Using a participatory monitoring and evaluation (PM&E) approach, the study sought to identify criteria for and characteristics of successful WfD schemes and practices. Because PM&E focuses attention on the perceptions and experiences of ordinary members of local communities who are the intended beneficiaries of WfD programmes rather than on the assessment of implementing or donor agencies, such an approach, it was thought, held the potential to deliver results unavailable by other means of evaluation and widen our understanding of the functioning of WfD programmes.

This report presents the results of the Mali case study of the UNIDIR WfD project. Drawn from field research carried out by a UNIDIR research team, the study finds that, by and large, WfD programmes in Mali did succeed in attaining their objectives of improving local security conditions and perceptions of targeted communities and, in the process, suggests that a PM&E approach to WfD programme monitoring and evaluation, and indeed\ design and implementation, can yield fruitful results.

Citation: Geofrey Mugumya (2004). "Exchanging Weapons for Development in Mali: Weapon Collection Programmes Assessed by Local People", UNIDIR, Geneva.