Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wrapping-up of the Jokko Initiative Capitalization Seminar

Rose and Oumou formally opened Panel 2 with a song about democracy.

The Jokko Capitalization Seminar came to a close on Monday evening. A big thanks to all who participated ! The Jokko team really appreciated your hard work and sacrifice of your weekend (for a good cause, of course). Here’s what went down :
Panel 1 focused on the pedagogical aspect of the Jokko Initiative and spent several days scrutinizing the module, session by session. The result : the groundwork for a longer, denser, new and improved module, to be translated in national languages.

Josephine takes notes in a small group discussion of income-generating activities.

Panel 2 worked on ensuring the sustainablity (socially, economically, and environmentally-speaking) of the Jokko Initiative through the development of an exit strategy—a means of ensuring the long-term sustainability of the results and impacts of this project, all while withdrawing from the community in a responsible and efficient manner. With this definition in mind, we brainstormed income-generating and social mobilization activities that incorporate mobile technology and that Community Management Committees (CMCs)- the community-based organizations that Tostan helps found during the course of its education program- could undertake. In developing these activites, we also sought to address some of the challenges and problem areas we identified in the pilot phase of the Jokko Initiative. Two major themes emerged : (1)the lack of electricity in the vast majority of the communities reached by the Jokko Initiative, which renders the charging of mobile phones extremely difficult and/or costly and (2)the disproportinate access of women and girls to mobile phones- meaning that these groups have diminished opportunities to communicate with their peers and to practice the skills they’ve learned using mobile phones in the Jokko module.
Over the course of three days, we explored areas for potential collaboration with several non-profit organizations and social entreprises in the implementation of income-generating and social mobilization activities. On Day 2 of the seminar, Rural Energy Foundation – a non-profit organization working to bring renewable energy to rural Africa- shared its work in Senegal with us.

Luc of Rural Energy Foundation demonstrates to Khalidou Sy, National Coordinator of Tostan Senegal, the financial advantages of solar energy for a rural household.
With Luc and Jasmien, we explored the vast potential of solar energy for rural Senegal and the possiblity of establishing solar micro-entreprises, such as solar-powered charging stations and community telecenters and a network of local entreprenuers selling solar products and providing maintanence for solar installations in their villages. These income-generating activities would, in turn, provide funds for the CMCs to invest in local development initiatives and social mobilization activities aiming to increase access to mobile technology for women and girls, such as community-led discussions on this issue, mobile phone libraries, and free SMS texting for women and girls at the community telecentres.
Over the course of the next couple weeks, we hope to finalize our approach and implementation strategy and to negotiate a partnership with an organization like REF. And we hope to be posting soon about the training of CMCs to implement these activities in 5 to 10 villages in Vélingara.
Again, a big thanks to the participants in our seminar, and a special thanks to Luc Severi and Jasmien Bronckaers of Rural Energy Foundation, to Simon Willans of Energy for Opportunity, Matt Berg from and Jeff Wishnie for sharing their time and expertise with us.

A group shot of the seminar participants.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Guediawaye CMC : Exemplary Social Entrepreneurs and Activists

Last week, Guillaume, Malick and I had the opportunity to sit in on a Community Management Committee (« CMC » in Tostan-ese) meeting in Guediawaye, on the outskirts of Dakar. Tostan is currently running its 30 month-long human rights-based non-formal education program in Guediawaye. While participants won’t be starting the Jokko module for literacy and social empowerment until October 2010, we have a lot to learn from this village in the meanwhile!
Some context : During Tostan's education program, we help found a community-based organization to support local development projects long after we've left the village. The CMCs are composed of 17 democratically-elected community members – including a minimum of 9 women – who engage in income-generating activities in order to raise funds to support advocacy efforts and development initiatives.
Barely 2 years old, the Guediawaye CMC serves as an exemplar and is close to obtaining GIE (Groupement d'Intérêt Economique / Economic Interest Group) status, which is the most fundamental economic unit recognized by the Senegalese government. With the funds generated from fabric dying, millet grinding, table gardening and soap-making the Guediawaye CMC is able to support awareness-raising for the prevention of HIV /AIDS and malaria and to lead neighborhood clean-up activities.
The discussion in the CMC meeting was lively and inclusive (I only wish that my understanding of Wolof had been a bit better!).

Roof-top table gardens.

Ground millet, ready to be sold.

Dame Guéye leads an interactive exercise.

Malick and Guillaume discuss serious stuff.

Guediawaye CMC members talk strategy.

Lindsay Powell

This Week: The Jokko Initiative Capitalization Seminar

Here in Dakar, we're busy with preparations for the Jokko Initiative Capitalization Seminar- the aim of which is to take advantage of the various lessons aggregated over the course of the pilot phase (April 2009 - April 2010). More than 30 supervisors, facilitators, and regional and international staff members will convene in Thiès from Wednesday May 6th to Tuesday May 11th to discuss 3 major themes: Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation; Pedagogical Approach and Curricula; and Exit Strategies and Sustainability.

Stay posted for updates on our progress throughout the course of the seminar.
Blog adapted by Salim Drame