When communities participate in Tostan’s three-year nonformal education program, the Community Empowerment Program, they learn knowledge and skills to make positive changes in all aspects of their lives as well as how to work towards collective action.
Just as our holistic program recognizes that it is difficult to achieve success in one area of development without working in others, many of the MDGs are interlinked. Highlighted below are just some of the results from communities across the eight countries in which we work who are working towards the Millennium Development Goals.
MDG 1 – Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger
In Guinea-Bissau, 39 communities were able to double their community development grants in just six months. This was in large part due to their training in project and financial management received in the Aawde phase of the Tostan program and small grants which managed by Community Management Committees (CMC). Funds are replenished from the interest charged on microcredit loans provided to community members in order to help them launch or expand small business ventures.
MDG 2 – Achieve Universal Primary Education
In Guinea, 76 communities who have recently completed the Tostan program have now enrolled 2,978 children in school and two of the communities have constructed their own schools. These communities have also pledged to promote human rights and abandon child/forced marriage, meaning that the girls who are now in school will likely stay there for much longer.
MDG 3 – Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women
In Somalia, and in all the countries where we work, communities know that for gender equality to be achieved it is necessary to abandon harmful traditional practices such as child/forced marriage and female genital cutting, which are violations of the human rights of women and girls. Recently, 28 communities did just that. When communities abandon these practices, they also improve maternal health (MDG 5) by delaying pregnancy and this consequently increases the likelihood girls will continue their education (MDG 2).
MDG 4 – Reduce Child Mortality
In Mali, 38 of our partner communities have led vaccination campaigns to reduce child mortality. Their CMCs have created health sub-committees and they work with local health services to initiate vaccination campaigns.
MDG 5 – Improve Maternal Health
In The Gambia, social mobilization teams are paying home visits to women, encouraging them to go for prenatal consultations and taking ownership of maternal health in their own communities.
MDG 6 – Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other Diseases
During the Kobi phase of Tostan’s program, communities learn about hygiene and health, and what actions they can take for community health. Communities from Kaolack, Senegal have this year taken action to encourage behaviors that prevent malaria, with the distribution of over 6,000 mosquito nets.
MDG 7 – Ensure Environmental Sustainability
In Mauritania, communities are working together to replant trees to discourage desertification. So far, more than 12,700 trees have been planted in the region of Brakna. The trees attract rain and break the wind, meaning that sand dunes will be more stable and sand storms will be reduced
MDG 8 – Global Partnership for Development
Collective action and partnership are vital for sustainable development. In all the countries where we work, CMCs collaborate together, often with other local, national and international partners, in order to achieve their development goals.
As we have seen through our series celebrating MDG Week 2013, African communities are showing us how to achieve these goals at a community level, contributing to global success as they do.