Representatives of 24 neighboring communities from the rural commune of Sirakorola gathered on June 20, in the village of Sikouna in Mali, for an intervillage meeting to discuss the progress made in the five impact areas of the Community Empowerment Program (CEP), GESEE (a French acronym for Governance, Education, Health, Environment, Economy), and other changes just a few weeks before the end of the Kobi 1, the first module of the CEP. This meeting took place in the presence of the Mayor of the city, community leaders and notables, and local radio stations.
Participants were divided into small working groups, and each group appointed a spokesperson to note down the program activities of each community, and to share the results of the working group discussions. They also talked about how current and future activities, planned by their respective Community Management Committees (CMC), would be carried out, in the midst of a break in the program coinciding with the impending rainy season.
The sessions on information sharing on success of the GESEE impact areas proved to be a hot topic of discussion among participants. Concerning the area of economic growth, they talked about their economic engagements in the sale of sugar and soap, but also about their contribution to the community development fund managed by CMCs.
In the area of health, it has been noticed that a growing number of women have attended prenatal visits to improve their health and that of their children. The issue of female genital cutting also came up in the discussions. The participants at this meeting exchanged ideas in relation to this social norm, and based their responses on what their knowledge about human rights from the CEP.
With regard to governance, participants noted the importance of civil acts such as marriages, obtaining marriage certificates, but also the crucial importance of systematically registering children at birth and and collecting birth certificates..
At the end of the meeting, participants were pleased with the results achieved since the beginning of the CEP, including successes in some GESEE impact areas. Some noticed the positive social transformations which took place during the gatherings, where both men, women and children were united. These debates motivated them to express their desire to maintain to promote human rights and to improve the living conditions of members in their communities.