For centuries, griots have directed ceremonies, smoothed over disputes, and served as repositories of history and genealogy. Now in northern Mali they are out of a job.
Mali was hit by two successive shocks to its system this year – with the north seized by rebels and a coup in the capital – leaving its government fragile and the international community mulling intervention.
A divided Mali could become a haven for armed groups and a security nightmare for the whole of West Africa and far beyond. But foreign military intervention alone will be insufficient to address the turmoil. External troops will need the help of local and regional civil society organizations.
The widespread availability of mobile phones has enabled the development of low-cost solutions aimed at improving water security and reducing poverty.