New Affiliate in Burkina Faso Inspired by Visit to Ghana

by James Tayler

Burkina Faso & Ghana Exchange Burkina Faso & Ghana Exchange

Part I: A Testimony From Ouagadougou 

By Kotimi Kéré, resident of spontaneous zone “Taabtenga” in Ouagadougou (translation by Chantal Hildebrand, SDI Secretariat)

Burkina Faso & Ghana Exchange

Photo above: Kotimi Kéré, adjoining treasurer of the “Association ‘Id-rayim-taab yeele,” and community member of sector 45 “Taab-Tenga” (a spontaneous zone of in Ouagadougou).

Taking part in the study tour to Ghana from 21-26 January 2013, I got a better understanding of the SDI strategy. It is a matter of mobilizing poor communities to improve their living conditions and be able to influence the actions of decision-makers in the favor of these populations.

Aspects of SDI strategy that arouses the most interest during this exchange included:

  • Mobilising communities around a common project and/or idea;
  • The introduction of savings groups within urban poor communities. People living in slums are a the priority poor. Having faith in an individual project, each community member, to the best of their ability, will put aside a little bit of money everyday to add to their savings book (for example, 2 cedis, 5 cedis, etc.);
  • The possibility of savings group members being able to save enough to support individual projects;
  • The solidarity and team spirit found within the savings groups in terms of supporting each member even if they experience difficulties in repaying a loan;

The main lesson I learned from this trip is the following: 

The modernization of cities is often a process split into two speeds. On the one hand, the institutional principles set by national and local policy makers, and on the other side, the poor settlements in cities who have difficulty fitting into the formal principles. The inclusion and non-marginalization of the urban poor are esstential to the modernization of cities. 

The alternative is to make the urban poor aware of their own abilities to change their destinies. We do not always need to wait for others to do everything for us and lift us out of our misery. Overcoming poverty and improving our lives depend primarily on us. It is necessary to know our prioities to first realise our own progress with patience and self-confidence. Although poor, I can find ways to spare a little of what I earn each day to support projects that benefit my life. The battle for registering poor communities in urban development is based primarily on our abilities to improve our own living conditions. 

From what I have seen and learned, in my opinion it would be selfish to keep it to oneself. I come from a community living in a precarious neighborhood (slum) of Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. In my opinion, I think  the first action to do on my return to my country is to mobilise my own community to change our current living conditions and our lives.  

To read Kotimi Kéré’s testimonial in French, please click here.

Burkina Faso & Ghana Exchange

Photo above of Ouagadougou delegation that participated in the exchange to Ghana: Florent Y. Bakouan (representative from Laboratoire Citeyonnetés), Madeleine Bouda (community member from Taabtenga), Kotimi Kere (community member from Nioko 2) and Franck Kabore (representative from le Coalition Nationale pour L’Habitat). 

Part II: The Way Forward

By Chantal Hildebrand, using “Restitution Ghana report” by Florent Bakouan.

Upon their return to Burkina Faso, the Ouagadougou delegation who participated in the learning exchange to Ghana met to discuss how to implement some of the lessons and tools they learned in the spontaneous zones of Ouagadougou. It was agreed that they would begin by sharing the lessons learned in Ghana with their own communities specifically Nioko 2 and Taabtenga – the two spontaneous zones where Mrs. Bouda and Ms. Kéré live.

Beginning with Nioko 2, a presentation was conducted by Mrs. Bouda reporting her experience on the Ghana exchange and presenting the SDI approach and core rituals. Attended by 150 community members and members of a local women’s group called “Songr Nooma la Zamstaaba” (which Mrs. Bouda is a member), the presentation resulted in a collective interest in implementing some of the SDI approach in the Nioko 2 community. Identifying lack of access to safe drinking water in households as a key issue in the community, the interested residents decided to mobilise the rest of the Nioko 2 community around this priority. The community, with the help of Laboratoire Citeyonnetés and the other individuals who participated in the Ghana exchange, have begun mobilizing community members through the establishment of a savings scheme, with current membership totaling 130 people. Future plans include:

  • Conducting an enumeration of Nioko 2, identifying areas with available drinking water, the number of households without water, those who want water, etc;
  • Conducting a mapping exercise focusing on the current water situation in the community.

Burkina Faso & Ghana Exchange

A meeting in Taabtenga is scheduled for Sunday 10 March 2013. As explained by Mr. Florent Bakouan, a representative from the Laboratoire Citeyonnetés who participated in the Ghana exchange, in Taabtenga, like Nioko 2, “Nous allons partager ce que nous avons appris au Ghana, susciter l’adhésion des habitants à l’approche SDI et envisager avec eux un projet commun pour le réaliser par eux et pour eux.” – English translation: “We will share what we have learned in Ghana, build support from the residents around the SDI approach and consider a joint project with the residents to help facilitate community-run upgrading and work with them on a communal project to realize by them for them.”

He ends by saying, “En conclusion…Nous avons mis l’accent d’abord sur l’adhésion des populations à l’approche SDI, ensuite à leur mobilisation autour d’un projet commun. Nous allons progressivement étape par étape pour avoir plus de chances de réussite.” – English translation: “In conclusion… we focus first on public support around the SDI approach, then their mobilisation around a common project. We are progressing gradually, step by step, to have a better chance of success.”