Tuesday, November 08, 2005


I receive a lot of email asking my why I don't write more about NGOs in the Francophone nations of Africa. Well, with the help of really great NGO in found in the UK, I think I can bring more light to organizations in at least two countries: Mali and Burkina Faso. That UK NGO is International Service.

International Service (IS), the oldest of the British volunteer sending agencies, was founded in 1953. It is a UK registered charity and was established as the United Nations Association (UNA) Trust's response to the Dutch floods in the year of IS's founding.

Not long after its creation, IS began to expand its operations outside Europe. International Service became an independent charitable company in 1998, and remains so today, though it still maintains its links with the UNA.

IS works to "promote long-term development in poor communities in the Third World by working in partnership with local organisations, non-governmental or governmental organisations or the two in collaboration." And when they say that they work with partners, they are not exaggerating. Later, I will show you a list to their partners in two regions where they work.

When the organization receives requests for skills that are not available in a local region, is responds by providing Development Workers, who share their skills and experiences with those local people in order to strengthen their efforts to improve their situation.

These Development Workers provided by IS work in tandem with individual, groups and communities to address the problems at hand. But IS believes that it is important for them to help the local communities to build capacity through increasing organisational awareness and consciousness so that those partner organizations are better able to take control of their own functions and future in a responsible manner. And so, they work towards that end in all their partnerships.

In the UK, Global Citizenship is a goal of IS. And work is done to promote that concept - which they define as "Having a sense of your role in the world and being willing to take action to bring about change towards the goal of the eradication of poverty."

IS uses campaigns, educational materials and other initiatives to promote understanding and increase awareness of development issues. The information they disseminate is based on their own information and experiences gained from the field.

International Service works continuously to increase links between their southern partners and northern civil society groups and also with other partners in the North such as academic institutions and professional groups.

While International Service works in a number of countries, I would like to focus in this article on Mali and Burkina Faso.


Since 1978 International service has been placing development workers with local partner organisations in Mali. And they usually have between 10 and 15 development workers in the field at any one time. IS sees its main priorities in Mali as being organisational development and capacity building. This is seen as a means to support the development of civil society, which is necessary if decentralisation and participatory democracy (two of the stated aims) are to be met in that nation.

Currently most of IS's Development Workers in Mali are engaged with local NGOs helping them to improve their capacity and increase their ability to better respond to the needs of varying groups. For example, by being better able to effectively make situation analyses and to better plan and set objectives, while monitoring and evaluating the development activities/processes the partners can more effectively help their clients.

Financing being a major concern of any NGO, the Development Workers often assist partner organizations in obtaining funding for their activities.

The sustainability of livelihoods, natural resources management, vocational training, savings and credit, and income generation are also supported goals of a number of partner organizations.

IS maintains a Field Office in Mali in its capital of Bamako and works with the following Malian partner organisations:

Association d'Appui à l'auto Développement Communautaire (AADEC)
Functions: education, micro-enterprise development, youth health, decentralisation and governance issues.

Association pour le Développment et l'Appui aux Communautés (ADAC)
Functions: to improve living conditions in local communities through reinforcing their technical, economic and organisational capacities with activities such as training, information, literacy and access to financial resources.

Association Action Promotion Développement (APDev)
Functions: a savings and credit project and a market gardening, nutrition and literacy programme for rural women near Bamako, child survival, the promotion of democracy and decentralization. APDev focuses on the areas around the capitol and the Cercle of Yanfolila in the south of Mali.

Association Jeunesse Action (AJA)
Functions: promoting employment training, skills training and awareness programmes in employment generation and micro-enterprise.

Association Malien pour la Promotion des Entreprises Feminines (AMAPEF)
Functions: to contribute to the socio-economic development of women by promoting enterprise initiatives.

Association pour le Progrès et la Défense des Droits des Femmes Maliennes (APDF)
Functions: women's rights, to help organise women to build their confidence to defend their rights and improve their wellbeing at socio-economic, legal and cultural levels, activities include education and training, micro-enterprise finance, information and awareness raising, support to women in difficult circumstances, as well participation in events organised at local, national or international levels.

Action Recherche pour le Dévelopment des Initiatives Locales (ARDIL)
Functions: tree-planting, support of women groups with credit and project realisation and support of two communal health centers, environment, health and micro-credit.

Conseils et Appui pour l'Education à la Base (CAEB)
Functions: to promote participatory development of local groups by reinforcing their management capacities, small business promotion, savings and credit development.

Coordination des Organisations pour la Promotion des Jeunes Travailleurs (COPJT)
Functions: a network linking 16 different organisations and offering a variety of services to young migrant domestic workers such as evening literacy classes and skills training to health care, legal advice and advocacy.

Coordination des Organismes Travaillant dans l'Assainissement et la Protection de l'Environnement (COTAPE)
Functions: 20 member groups working in the field of garbage disposal and wastewater management in the city of Sikasso.

Group d'Appui Environnementale Walia (GAE - Walia)
Functions: to reinforce local capacities within natural resource management, family health, environmental protection, and educational infrastructure.

Group de Recherche et d'Applications Techniques (GRAT)
Functions: to promote sustainable development in both rural and urban contexts, applying appropriate technologies for using available natural resources, co-operation and collaboration between different groups involved in development, and exchange of information, ideas and experiences, technical and institutional support to locally initiated development projects; action research, development, adaptation and promotion of appropriate technologies; support for professional training; organisation of workshops, seminars; and developing and maintaining a documentation centre.

Jeunesse et Développement (J&D)
Functions: to empower young people to develop their potential and play an active role in development, to promote an integrated approach to community health, women's initiatives, civic education and literacy and introducing and supporting the Reflect approach to social change in francophone West Africa.

Radio Wassoulou
Functions: a community radio station whose programmes focus on mother and child health, school attendance (especially among girls); improving the status of women; preserving cultural heritage and traditional knowledge; encouraging people to exercise their civic rights and responsibilities; improving the capacities for good governance on an associative and communal level; and profitable agricultural production techniques.

Centre de Formation Sabatisso (SFS)
Functions: to support the improvement of local skills in the construction sector, offers training programmes covering among others math and French, building design, work regulations and practical construction skills to young unemployed and school dropouts in the Bamako region.

Stop Sahel
Functions: include sustainable agriculture, environmental management and women's credit, savings and income generating activities.

My, my! Look at the time. I've run over my limit already and I have even finished the first half of what I want to say about International Services. So, it looks like I will have to direct you to their web site; but I am also going to try to continue this tomorrow as a two-part article. Maybe even a three-part article. But you have to admit that International Services has found plenty of partners in Francophone Africa. And for those of you who are looking for partners in Mali or Burkina Faso, it might be a good idea to make contact with IS.

Now, if you can't wait to hear more about International Services, for to their web site at: International Services; or you can wait until I finish writing about this Great organization tomorrow or the next day.


1 comment:

Kaunda said...

Hello, I just discovered this blog via the Global Voices Bloglines list. I noticed that comments are not a regular part of this community, but wanted to commend you on your valuable service anyway. Thanks.