In March 2013, Tostan supported the building of a community center in Saam Ndiaye, Senegal. Before the construction of this center, community members had no sheltered place to meet during bad weather or without outside interruptions. This was especially problematic for the Community Management Committee (CMC), a group of 17 democratically-selected members trained to ensure the sustainability of the Community Empowerment Program (CEP) after its conclusion by organizing community activities and development projects. The CMC meets each month to organize activities which promote human rights and encourage economic initiatives, and they were in need of a common space to do this.
Construction of the community center began in March and ended in May 2013. It was a very useful addition to the village, however, because Saam Ndiaye is one of many rural communities in Senegal that is not connected to the national electricity grid, convening meetings during the evenings was impossible. The community identified the need to obtain electricity through an alternative source of power.
Through Tostan’s Empowered Communities Network, which connects and assists communities to find external partners to support their vision for development, the CMC of Saam Ndiaye formed a partnership with TEEFA Lighting Senegal, a solar energy company based in Dakar to find a solution to address the community’s problem.
TEEFA Lighting Senegal offered the community, free of charge, one solar panel and three light fixtures to be used in the center. The equipment was installed at the center on July 23. The access to electricity will now allow the community to use the center to its full potential, making it possible to hold meetings and other activities after the sun has set.
Tostan’s Empowered Communities Network hopes to continue its partnership with TEEFA and provide more communities with electricity from solar panels.