What Tostan Does
Tostan means "breakthrough" in the West African language of Wolof. Tostan’s mission is to empower African communities to bring about sustainable development and positive social transformation based on respect for human rights. Since 1991, Tostan has brought its holistic, human rights-based, 30-month nonformal education program - the Community Empowerment Program (CEP) - to thousands of communities in ten African countries: Burkina Faso, Djibouti, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Somalia, and Sudan. The goal of the CEP is to provide its participants – approximately 80% of whom are women and girls - with the skills and knowledge to improve their lives in a sustainable way. Developed methodically over the past 20 years through an ongoing process of community consultation and careful revision, the CEP has become one of the most unique and effective community development programs in Africa.
With mobile phone networks rapidly expanding to cover the vast majority of African citizens, and with mobile phones already commonplace in even the most remote villages, mobile technology is a promising platform for more empowering and inclusive systems of communication. The increasing accessibility of mobile technology and the cost-efficiency of SMS texting relative to placing a call present a new motivation for literacy while providing an ideal training tool. Mobile technology also has the potential to increase the scope of community-led events and more efficiently diffuse innovations and collective decisions while amplifying the voice of traditionally marginalized individuals. Furthermore, mobile technology is a powerful economic tool that has a variety of innovative potentialities for income-generating activities in rural communities.
The Jokko Initiative: Empowering the BoP with Mobile Technology
Innovative RapidSMS Applications for Community-Led Development
Community Telecenters for Income-Generating and Social Mobilization Activities