Thursday, November 10, 2005

JEUNESSE et DÉVELOPPEMENT Making A Difference In Mali

For the past two days I have posted articles about International Service , the UK NGO that works with quite a few partners in Mali and Burkina Faso.

Today I am going to focus on one of those organizations, Jeunesse et Développement (J&D)

Established in 1993, J&D works "to empower young people to develop their potential and play an active role in Mali's development." In addition to working with urban youth, J&D works with local partners in 15 villages in the South of Mali to promote an integrated approach to community health, women's initiatives, employment, support for women's groups and marginalised children and young people, civic education and literacy.

These programs are all carried out with J&D's objectives of providing health and education and to promote reproductive health; to support and facilitate initiatives to develop income generation and to encourage the concept of citizenship.

The strategy they employ is to work with communities, community based organisations and marginalised young people to facilitate an analysis of their environment; support initiatives to improve conditions for the most marginalised groups and to ensure the durability of actions undertaken

J&D puts particular emphasis on: staff training, the progressive transfer of skills and competence along with an effective partnerships with communities, local authorities, NGOs and Associations and state technical services. They also put particular emphasis on gender issues.

While aiming for transparency to ensure responsible management of their initiatives, they realize that the local communities are the principal actors and J&D are the intermediaries whose main role it is to facilitate the achievement of the communities' development objectives.

When Jeunesse & Développement was created in 1993 and received legal recognition on 11 December 1995. From 1995 to1998 members were busy acquiring a range of experience and skills working with other organizations, so during that time, J&D itself went through a period of inactivity.

With funding from ActionAid J&D was able to start several initiatives beginning in 1999. Today, the organisation has a range of local, national and international partners and is an established and effective NGO. The office in Bamako has a team of thirteen workers, with a further 10 based in the field.

J&D has also been very much involved in introducing and supporting the Reflect approach to social change in francophone West Africa.

Reflect is an innovative approach to both adult learning and social change that was first piloted in Uganda in the mid-1990s. Since then, it has spread rapidly to over 350 organisations in 60 natins. The work of Reflect in Africa was coordinated and facilitated by ActionAid between 1996 and 2003, through a Regional Co-ordination Unit based in ActionAid Uganda and sub-regional coordinators in Mali, Ghana, Mozambique and South Africa. Currently, an African wide network called "Pamoja" and comprised of African practitioners from a wide range of organizations has now set up to further develop this work. (I hope my UK friends will forgive me for "Americanizing" the spelling and grammar in this sentence.)

More information about all the efforts of Reflect may be found at the Reflect web site as well as information on its approach, evolution, international contacts and activities in different countries around the world.

Reflect in Francophone West Africa

In 1999 Mahamadou Cheick Diarra of Jeunesse et Développement became the Reflect coordinator and resource person for the francophone countries of Africa. Since then Reflect training has taken place in Chad, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Mali, Togo, Guinea and Niger. Additionally participants from Mauritania and Cameroon have attended some of this training and Diarra has facilitated training in Haiti, Rwanda and Burundi, which are also francophone countries.

Another very exciting development is that annually, representatives of both anglophone and francophone countries in West Africa have meet together and have exchanges about their experiences. These meetings took place in Mali in 2000, the Gambia in 2001, Burkina Faso in 2002, Ghana in 2003 and Senegal in 2004. Also, a national practitioner networks are being set up in several countries as well.

Because of the efforts of J&D, Reflect circles exist in 26 villages in the south of Mali where the Reflect approach has been introduced. Participants in these communities are developing their understanding of issues such as health, civic education, livestock, agriculture, environment, micro-finance, gender issues and apiculture; as well as developing their communication skills through literacy and speaking in public.

Several of the J&D personnel are experienced Reflect trainers and the organisation is a point of reference where people can access information and contacts concerning the approach. The organization also provides English to French translation for documentary material in an attempt to make more of such material available in French. This also helps J&D to carry out an advocacy role in order to give voice to the practitioners from francophone countries in the international Reflect arena. J&D is proud of its recent work in translating and printing the french version of the new Reflect practitioners resource "Communication and Power".

More about Jeunesse et Développment's work with Reflect can be found at: Reflect and Jeunesse et Développment (This is the English version of the web site, a French version is also available.)

Another of J&D's major initiatives is "Children in Difficult Situations" - J&D's website states about Children in Difficult Situations: "This wording varies from country to country. Some refer to "street children" and others "young people in difficult situations" but its meaning remains the same. They include children and young people from 8 to 25 who have left their families and are living permanently on the street. They are poor people who can be found in public places such as cemeteries, market places, bus stations, beaches, cinemas and theatres etc. because they have nowhere else to go. They are the numerous young people full of unexploited potential who deserve education and training instead of rejection and danger and who fill our towns and cities begging on the streets. All of them have terrible living conditions. They are very often innocent victims of a system that exposes them to prostitution, sexual abuses and other forms of exploitation."

Working in partnership with organisations in Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mali and Togo for some years now, J&D has been able to offer young people in difficult situations health care, training, formal and informal education and support in order to facilitate their social reintegration and ensure their well-being. Oxfam GB, through the On The Line programme, has (and continues) to contribute to the efforts to improve the livelihood of these children.

ON THE LINE is aimed at emphasizing the similarities and differences of the lives of different people living on the Greenwich meridian and to share the riches and varieties of their cultures. The West Africa ON THE LINE programme has initiated exchanges among the organisations working with street children in Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mali and Togo. These exchanges have lead to two important meetings.

The first of these meetings was the The Accra Meeting, which took place from April 11 to 18 in 2000 This meeting followed an exploratory mission to Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali and Togo carried out by J&D agents and people from approximately 40 additonal organisations that work with street children.

based on the outcomes of the Accra meeting J&D proposed guide lines for a further meeting in Bamako that took place from the 17th until the 28th of November 2000.

The objectives of the Accra meeting were to enable participants from the four countries to consolidate their experience, resources and skills by sharing and discussing those experiences. The further objective was to develop ideas for the Bamako meeting and to organize that event for November 2000

The Bamako Meeting broadened the participation to include representatives from street children from the four countries. The aim of this process was to "improve access to services such as lodging, education, health care and economic independence by clarifying the current situation and strengthening the capacity of organisations working with this group." It was a futher aim of the Bamako meeting to raise public awareness about children's needs and rights and to give young people a voice to express themselves to the authorities and society as a whole. The Bamako meeting lasted nine days.

Themes discussed during both the Accra Meeting and the Bamako Meeting can be found at J&D's "Children in Difficult Situations" web page .

The Bamako Meeting ended with the reading of the "Bamako Declaration" that summed up the conclusions, suggestions and recommendations of the young people concerned.

This document was produced by the young people's workshop of which it is an integral part. It may also be found at: Bamako Declaration

There is much, much more to talk about that J&D is doing, such as The Micro Project Programme, which arose out of The Bamako Declaration's expressed need to involve young people themselves in the search for solutions to their problems. This new initiative takes a child centred approach, called "youth for youth", which aims to meet some of the needs that the young people expressed during the Bamako meeting and to keep developing that approach. There are quite a few other programmes that they have ongoing as well. But I will have to refer you to Jeunesse et Développement's web site to get more information as my promise to keep these articles short must be honored.

Visit Jeunesse et Développement and read more about the wonderful work they are doing.

No comments: