Ensuring Sustainability

Tostan’s Community Empowerment Program not only supports communities to achieve their vision but also helps them sustain the changes they make and improve their resilience to address challenges and opportunities that may arise in the future.

Community Management Committees

As part of the Community Empowerment Program (CEP), we train Community Management Committees (CMCs) in the management skills necessary to implement development projects.

CMCs are made up of 17 democratically-selected members, at least nine of whom must be women. Participation in the CMC helps women improve their confidence, leadership, and social standing by assuming prominent roles in their community.

The CMCs take forward the community’s vision for sustainable development and as community-based organizations, work with partners and others to meet community needs.

Over 2,800 CMCs (2022), have been established in Tostan partner communities across Africa. Some of their activities include:

  • Birth registrations
  • Advocacy with local health, education and government officials for health campaigns, schools and roads
  • Community construction projects such as health huts and latrines
  • Management of community grants and micro-credit systems to support local businesses.

Sustaining Partnerships with Communities after the Program

In many instances Tostan has found ways to be a supportive partner to CMCs after the end of the CEP. These partnerships have ranged from support in the formation of federations of CMCs to collaborations with other NGOs as well as project financing direct from funders. Tostan also collaborates closely with previously trained communities when designing new educational modules or sessions.

Collaboration Between Committees and Local Government

Another key element of Tostan’s approach to sustainability is our engagement with local decentralized governments. Through the recently-developed Strengthening Democracy and Civic Engagement (SDCE) initiative within the CEP, Tostan includes training and other activities to increase the capacity of elected officials to fulfill their mandate with communities in their jurisdiction. At the same time, we enable partner communities to advocate and collaborate more effectively with elected officials and with social services such as health and education. Together with organized diffusion by communities, SDCE activities are key for scaling results to entire districts and departments, serving to improve the well-being of Tostan partner communities and other communities in the administrative zone.

Tostan’s long-term vision is to support the conditions for sustained progress at local level, with communities, local decentralized government, and other actors better able to initiate and sustain their efforts.

Sustained Changes in Social Dynamics: A Descriptive Study of Communities after the Program

Tostan has found that the full CEP also creates a range of sustained changes in the lives and relations of many individuals, families, and groups in the community and region.  In 2019 and 2020, Tostan partnered with ID Insight to complete a study in communities after the program. Tostan was encouraged by the main findings of the study, which confirmed expectations about realities in communities after the completion of the CEP. In particular, the study was valuable for Tostan to increase its understanding of the importance and sustainability of positive social dynamics that influence individual and collective well-being. The study showed:

  • more discussion in families and in communities to reach decisions and to avoid conflict
  • a decrease in violence against women and girls
  • evidence of social norm shifts toward abandonment of FGC

To read more about this study and other resources, please consult our Evaluations and Research page.