The “Strengthening Crisis Management Capacities of Malian National Police, Gendarmerie and National Guard during Elections” project was implemented from July 2021 to December 2022. The project’s overarching objective was to support national authorities in Mali to transition towards democratic governance and the rule of law, contributing to peace and development in the country.

The project expected to achieve its objective by developing training packages targeting strategic, operational and tactical levels of the national police, gendarmerie and national guard, as well as civilian protection units. Simulation exercises, training of trainers (ToT) for master trainers and trainers, training sessions, and the provision of equipment for this target group were also organised. The École de Maintien de la Paix (EMPABB) acted as the project implementing partner.

The evaluation was conducted between December 2022 and June 2023 and included a field mission to Bamako, Mali. The evaluation followed the OECD DAC criteria and adopted a gender and human rights-based approach. The evaluation focused on identifying good practices, lessons learned, and any challenges encountered by the project. Furthermore, the evaluation methodology employed a theory of change approach and utilized mixed tools encompassing both quantitative and qualitative methods.

Key evaluation findings

Relevance: The evaluation found the project to be highly relevant to all stakeholders’ needs and priorities, particularly in light of the electoral calendar and the current Malian volatile political context. The training content and the simulation exercise proved essential in effectively managing crowds, minimizing violence and mitigating potential casualties. The ToT sessions and materials were also well received by the trainers and in line to improve trainers' abilities to deliver training effectively.

Coherence: The project was deemed a coherent alignment with other initiatives implemented by UNITAR, some also funded by the same donor. The project was also aligned with EMPABB’s mandate, UNITAR’s Strategic Framework and training methodologies, the SDGs, particularly SDG 16 and SDG 5; and the national legal electoral framework.

Effectiveness: Overall, the project demonstrated effectiveness in delivering high-quality outputs that were considered substantive, relevant and applicable in practice. While external circumstances prevented the delivery of some planned outputs, alternative measures were implemented, including the revision of the crisis management guidebook, the publication of crisis management cards and the inclusion of medical training. The significance of medical training was emphasized by trainers and master trainers as it equips troops with crucial knowledge of first aid and medical protocols for the protection of civilians during periods of violence. Amendments made to the original log frame were promptly communicated to the donor.

The integration of gender and human rights themes into the training materials was acknowledged, although interviewees expressed a desire for more detailed materials and practical case studies. Training participants suggested the need to further enhance the security forces' skills, coordination protocols and adherence to international best practices in crisis management, particularly in preparation for the upcoming elections.

Efficiency: Overall, the project was successfully completed within the designated timeline and its human resource allocation was appropriate. However, the evaluation remained inconclusive regarding the project's financial efficiency due to the challenges encountered in verifying expenditures and comparing budget utilization as a consequence of not being able to review the final financial report from UNITAR to the donor. The substantial budget allocation for the project was justified considering the implementation of numerous training activities and the resources needed to carry out the simulation exercises. The project’s reporting was viewed as sufficient by the donor, EMPABB and UNITAR.

Likelihood of impact: The evaluation found significant progress made by the project yet further strengthening is needed to achieve the desired impact. The certified trainers face challenges in availability due to field responsibilities and limited support from upper management. Overcoming these obstacles is crucial for fostering a sustainable community of practice and maximizing the trainers' contributions. From a project management perspective, the incorporation of qualitative indicators would provide deeper insights into participants' competency and the integration of training outcomes into daily work practices, enhancing the assessment of effectiveness and impact.

Likelihood of sustainability: Ensuring the project's sustainability is a primary concern, necessitating continuous efforts to bridge the gaps and establish a coordinated response for the upcoming elections, thereby ensuring long-term impact. The project stakeholders also identified some limitations in participants outreach, despite the project’s efforts to reach out participants through training in major cities.


The evaluation issued a set of seven recommendations, based on its findings and conclusions:

  1. UNITAR should promote the integration of crisis management guides and technical resources into national security force schools.
  2. UNITAR should develop specialized trainings on crisis management and securitization of elections for senior officers.
  3. In collaboration with its partner, UNITAR should review the course materials to ensure greater integration of human rights considerations into the training of trainers’ certification and other training programmes.
  4. UNITAR should develop monitoring tools and draft indicators that are more qualitative to capture the effectiveness of the trainings rather than just report on the number of trained officers.
  5. UNITAR should strengthen communication and dissemination of training learnings through peer-to-peer knowledge sharing and through the identification of champions for knowledge sharing and mentoring.
  6. UNITAR should foster peer-to-peer knowledge sharing through networks and champions.
  7. UNITAR should build on learnings from this project to inform future elections projects, including conducting comprehensive assessments to identify ongoing gaps and challenges in the existing crisis management coordination deployment plan, and developing targeted training programmes and simulation exercises to address these areas.

Lessons learned

Four lessons learned were identified during the evaluation exercise:

Stakeholder dedication and ownership

The commitment and dedication of stakeholders, including international and national actors, is vital for the success of a project. Collaboration and shared ownership among stakeholders contribute to project effectiveness, early signs of impact and likelihood of sustainability. The enduring collaboration between EMPABB and UNITAR is a testament to this dedication, which has yielded positive results.

Monitoring and learning tools

Clear and well-defined outcomes and indicators are essential for effective monitoring and learning throughout the project life cycle. In addition, conducting baseline assessments provides a benchmark for measuring progress and determining the overall impact of the project.

Training and simulations

To strengthen the capabilities of national security forces, it is crucial to engage in medium to long-term training and simulations. This requires dedicated funding and the integration of relevant curricula. Additionally, it is essential to develop a pool of trainers and master trainers who can be regularly deployed to deliver effective training. Furthermore, fostering knowledge sharing among participants is vital for disseminating key takeaways and promoting ongoing behavioural change.

Gender, human rights and ‘Leave No One Behind’

It is always recommended to enhance the integration of gender, human rights and the ‘Leave No One Behind’ principle in project activities. This should involve further development of training content to ensure comprehensive coverage of these topics. Merely touching upon these subjects during training is insufficient to foster positive habits among security forces. Therefore, it is important to place greater emphasis on these aspects to promote equal opportunities and respect for all individuals.

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