On September 12 to 13 the Government of Guinea-Bissau launched a project for Guinea Bissau interventions under the Fund for Regional Stabilization and Development in Fragile Regions within ECOWAS Member States (FRSD), at the Government Palace building, in the capital Bissau. 

First left Fatumata Balde one of the project beneficiaries from Bafata region

The FRSD is a programme that seeks to strengthen the ECOWAS member states to preemptively react to crises, implement sustainability measures, and improve people’s resilience. This Project is commissioned and funded by the German Federal Ministry for Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by GIZ and KFW.

The launch was attended by high level personality such as Prime Minister of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau, the Minister of Economy and Finance, the Vice-President of the ECOWAS Commission, the representative of German Ministry for Economic, Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the representative of the German Embassy, the Country Director of GIZ Nigeria & ECOWAS, the representative of KfW and regional representatives and mayors of the Gabu, Bafat and Quinara region as well as community leaders.

Fatumata Balde, Head of the Community Management Committee of the community of Ponta Novo Fula, in Bafata Region, expressed gratitude to be among the participants of the launch of the Bright Professional Opportunities and Empowerment of Youth and Women for community-led sustainable development in Guinea-Bissau (BPOE) partnership. The partnership  is implemented as part of the Fund for Regional Stabilization and Development in Fragile Regions within ECOWAS Member States (FRSD) led by ECOWAS with  support from GIZ. Tostan is one of the national implementing partners in the consortium in collaboration with SwissAid, ADPP, COPE, and Access Agriculture.

Fatumata said, “during these two days, I learned a lot and exchanged with the  people who also implemented the pilot project in the Gambia. Here we now have great responsibility to do the same. I was particularly interested in the fish smoking process, the small water pool for the irrigation of the vegetable garden and the farming equipment provided as part of the  same project in The Gambia ”. As horticulture producer, Fatumata valued the information shared at the launch.

By 2025, BPOE in Guinea-Bissau will  engage more than 3,500 youth and women like Fatumata, 140 entrepreneurs, and 70 community development facilitators from 70 communities in the regions of Bafata, Gabu and Quinara.

Fatumata  added ”I felt honored when  Tostan invited  me to represent my community and region  at the BPOE project launch”. Fatumata appreciates the learning partnership and journey that she and other women in her community have experienced with Tostan. According to her, before the arrival of Tostan in 2019,  she did not know how to sign her name or give her phone number to someone. She  always needed someone to help her, and   today that  is a thing of the past.

At the project launch Fatumata comfortably interacted with participants from partner organizations such as GIZ. She was especially proud that nowadays she can read and understand the content of the project launch banner across the conference wall. According to her, this was only possible because she participated in the Tostan classes.

Fatumata promised that upon her return to Bafatá she will organize a session with members of other Community Management Committees to share what she heard and learned from this event.

Fatumata’s case is a good example of empowerment whereby gaining knowledge has enabled her to make decisions  for her own advancement and the advancement of her community.