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.


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