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Study Overview

PEACEField1: Mali Case-Study
Study is 3ie funded:
Study ID:
Initial Registration Date:
Last Update Date:
Study Status:
In Development

The capacity of mass media, such as radio or television, to harmfully shape political action has been established in literature. A more recent idea is that the same forms of media can also be used more positively, for example to encourage defections from non-state militant organizations. In this impact evaluation, we will study the impact of a project that is designed to build peace through mass media. Specifically, the project aimed – among other things – delivered a series of “pro-peace” broadcasts through community radio stations in districts at the Mali / Niger border, a place riven with conflict and political instability. The “treatment group” in the study will be composed from areas within the broadcasting range of treated radio stations; the “control” group will be composed in at least two different ways; first, from the areas just beyond the broadcasting range of treated radio stations; and second, in the broadcasting range of non-treated radio stations. This means that, one way or another, we will use geographic discontinuity approaches, with various bandwidths, to conduct the analyses. We will test the impact of the project on peace, stability and related outcomes in treatment and control regions using sets of secondary and remote data. These will include, but are not limited to: violence event counts from ACLED; nightlights; land usage; population and demographic variables; and UNDSS security data. All analyses will be corrected for multiple hypotheses as appropriate.

Registration Citation:

Ferguson, N.T.N., Martinez, S., Rebolledo, P., Thissen, P. and Ungwang, L. (2022). “PEACEField1 Mali Case Study: Studying the Impact of Community Radio on Social Stability.”

Additional Keywords:
Mali, Niger, peace radio, mass media, peacebuilding
Secondary ID Number(s):

Principal Investigator(s)

Name of First PI:
Neil T. N. Ferguson
ISDC - International Security and Development Center
Name of Second PI:
Lame Ungang / Paulina Rebolledo / Sebastian Martinez / Paul Thissen
ISDC - International Security and Development Center / 3ie

Study Sponsor

German Federal Foreign Office Stabilisation Platform
Study Sponsor Location:

Research Partner

Name of Partner Institution:
Type of Organization:
United States

Intervention Overview


The “Support for cross-border dialogue and security sector reform initiatives for peacebuilding in Mali and Niger” project has taken a multipronged approach to building trust and promoting peace and stabilization at the Mali / Niger border. In this work, we are interested in a major component of this strategy, implemented throughout 2020 and completed by Q1 2021 – the broadcast of “peace messaging” programs through community radio stations in the Gao and Manaka region of Mali and the Tilaberi region of Niger. This radio programming has sought to deliver information on conflict prevention and social cohesion, including the promotion of non-violent forms of conflict resolution through an existing network of private community radio stations in Mali. The programs were broadcast by 9 radio stations in these regions throughout 2020, with the information and training associated with the programming supported by UNODC and UN Women.

Theory of Change:

Radio broadcasts are known to have increased violence during the Rwandan genocide (Yanagizawa-Drott, 2014); to have triggered interethnic hatreds (DellaVigna et al., 2014); and can be used to cement support for regimes and coups (Bleck and Michelitch, 2017; Adena et al., 2015). On a more positive side, radio programming has also been shown to encourage defections from non-state armed groups (Armand et al., 2020). From this, we deduce that radio programming – both positively and negatively – has the capacity to shape political opinions and actions among listeners. In the minimal sense, our theory of change is therefore straight forward: the availability of radio promoting messages of inclusion and peace should result in changed perceptions on these fronts, which in turn, influences aggregate conflict indicators and associated ones pertaining to socio-economic activity. Through increasing positive programming on the airwaves, this intervention has the capacity to boost peaceful perceptions and actions among recipient communities. Consequently, these behaviors and perceptions can aggregate up to meaningful change in more aggregate indicators in the areas receiving the community radio broadcasts.

Multiple Treatment Arms Evaluated?

Implementing Agency

Name of Organization:
UNODC and UN Women
Type of Organization:
NGO (International)

Program Funder

Name of Organization:
United Nations Peacebuilding Fund
Type of Organization:
NGO (International)

Intervention Timing

Intervention or Program Started at time of Registration?
Start Date:
End Date:
Evaluation Method

Evaluation Method Overview

Primary (or First) Evaluation Method:
Regression discontinuity
Other (not Listed) Method:
Additional Evaluation Method (If Any):
Other (not Listed) Method:

Method Details

Details of Evaluation Approach:

In order to generate the evaluation approach, we will first geo-locate the nine intervention radio stations in Mali. We will undertake two rounds of mapping. The first will draw a circle on the map, which represents the limit of the broadcasting range of the original tower at the time of intervention, which has been sourced from the Radio Data Centre. The second will draw a series of concentric, larger, circles just beyond the broadcasting range to treatment stations. This will comprise the first control group. A second control group will be composed within the broadcasting region of nearby non-treatment radio stations. Preliminary research will result in decisions on which of these potential approaches works optimally; and which bandwidths appear to be appropriate for the analyses. We will rely on difference-in-difference based estimators as a workhorse model. The use of available long time series of data available before the intervention took place will be used to assess the parallel trends assumption. We will explore bandwidths of 50km, 75km, 100km, 150km and 200km.

Outcomes (Endpoints):

Given the nature of the intervention and the research question and the lack of individual/ household survey data representative at the unit of the intervention, we will rely on a series of secondary outcome indicators. These work on the assumption that the peace radio broadcastss reached significant numbers of people, and accordingly, can result in changes to aggregate indicators. We will study a range of secondary and remotely sourced variables, including (but not limited to): conflict event counts, sourced from the ACLED database and the UN’s internal DSS data; nightlight emissions; land usage; and demographic / population variables. Work will focus on outcomes in both Mali and Niger.

Unit of Analysis:
2km x 2km grid squares

We hypothesize:

  1. Pro-peace and pro-stability radio programing positively alter attitudes, beliefs and associated behaviors among listeners of community radio in Mali and Niger, reducing conflict incidence
  2. Reductions in conflict will have associated increases in economic activity within broadcasting regions.

More directly, we hypothesize:


  1. Increased access to peace radio will result in reduced episodes of violence in treatment areas
  2. Associated increases in peace might result to changes in:
    1. Population movements (demographics)
    2. Land usage (e.g. replenishing old agricultural produce)
    3. Economic activity (captured by nightlight emissions)
    4. A range of other variables, to be defined depending on data availability and unit of geographic variation
Unit of Intervention or Assignment:
The unit of intervention is defined by the concentric circles discussed above. We will work at a resolution of 2km by 2km grid cells.
Number of Clusters in Sample:
In some sense, we will work with nine clusters, defined by the nine radio stations. However, the actual number of clusters will vary along with the unit of intervention.
Number of Individuals in Sample:
N/A - individuals not sampled
Size of Treatment, Control, or Comparison Subsamples:
To the extent possible, we will conduct a standard array of heterogeneity tests, using local geography to delineate the subsamples. This could include (but is not limited to): urban / rural divides.

Supplementary Files

Analysis Plan:
Other Documents:

Outcomes Data

We will rely on secondary data sources, such as ACLED data and the UN’s internal security event count data for Mali on conflict / insecurity events, WorldPop data on demographics, etc. We use standard publicly available sources of land usage and nightlight data. The latter two indicators will be presented as the yearly average of the observed data in each grid square, which has been generated using standard algorithms.
Data Already Collected?
Data Previously Used?
Data Access:
Not restricted - access with no requirements or minimal requirements (e.g. web registration)
Data Obtained by the Study Researchers?
Data Approval Process:
Approval Status:

Treatment Assignment Data

Participation or Assignment Information:
Data Obtained by the Study Researchers?
Data Previously Used?
Data Access:
Data Obtained by the Study Researchers?
Data Approval Process:
Approval Status:

Data Analysis

Data Analysis Status:

Study Materials

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Registration Category

Registration Category:
Prospective, Category 3: Data for measuring impacts have been obtained/collected by the research team but analysis for this evaluation has not started

Completion Overview

Intervention Completion Date:
Data Collection Completion Date:
Unit of Analysis:
Clusters in Final Sample:
Total Observations in Final Sample:
Size of Treatment, Control, or Comparison Subsamples:


Preliminary Report:
Preliminary Report URL:
Summary of Findings:
Paper Summary:
Paper Citation:

Data Availability

Data Availability (Primary Data):
Date of Data Availability:
Data URL or Contact:
Access procedure:

Other Materials

Survey Instrument Links or Contact:
Program Files:
Program Files Links or Contact:
External Link:
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Description of Changes:

Study Stopped