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In search of Mali’s gold-mining revenues

Over the last 10 years, gold has become the most economically significant resource in Mali, accounting for more than half of the country’s exports (US$927 million as of 2003). In 2002, gold mining contributed a mere 2.9 percent to Mali’s GDP, but by 2004, it had increased to 12.7 percent. Gold is now the single largest source of Malian revenue, outpacing the former revenue giant, cotton. From 1996 to 2002, exports of gold increased from 18 percent of Mali’s total exports to 65.4 percent. During the same period, cotton exports declined from 61 percent to 22.4 percent.

Stakeholder engagement increases transparency, satisfaction, and civic action

This study evaluates the effectiveness of a Stakeholder Engagement (SE) intervention in improving outcomes for communities affected by oil and gas extraction in Western Uganda. The study design is a randomized controlled trial where villages are randomly assigned to a treatment group (participating in SE) or a control group (not participating). Data are collected via household surveys at baseline and end line in 107 villages in the Albertine Graben. We find that SE improves transparency, civic activity, and satisfaction with issues that most concern the people under study. While satisfaction has improved, it is too early to ascertain whether these interventions improve long-term outcomes. These results are robust when controlling for spillover effects and other sub regional fixed effects.

Bridging the academic-practitioner gap in RCTs

The use of Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) to evaluate development programs presents important challenges and opportunities for collaboration between academics and practitioners. The focused technical demands of an RCT and the broad reality of practitioner worlds forced the team to tackle questions of:

  • (a) how to manage the tensions of qualitative and quantitative data given the demand for evaluation procedures like power analysis estimation and hypothesis testing;
  • (b) how to define measurable impact so it represents program realities and is amenable to the standardization required by an RCT, and
  • (c) what compromises are required to maintain the spirit and practice of collaboration. We conclude that meaningful collaboration requires immense effort and compromise to leverage the significant benefits possible under this research paradigm.