The role of a Tostan supervisor is to act as the key link between the National Coordinator and the facilitator who leads the Community Empowerment Program (CEP) class sessions in communities. Most importantly, they supervise the implementation of the CEP in communities by the facilitators. To increase the capacity of supervisors in The Gambia, Ansou Kambaye, the National Coordinator of Tostan in Gambia and his assistant, Edrisa Keita, organized a four-day training workshop from May 31 to June 3, 2014 in Basse, The Gambia on supervising community-run microcredit systems and social mobilization activities. Two groups of supervisors benefitted from the training to enhance their capacities in the field.
After the completion of the three-year CEP program, communities receive a community development grant to be managed by the Community Management Committee (CMC). The grant is economically empowering and helps to sustain the knowledge gained from the CEP after three years. Thereafter, with this grant, some communities choose to implement a microcredit system.
Following this, supervisors are trained to ensure that the grant is well managed; they monitor the CMC-run microcredit system. In the first training session, led by Ansou, several key tasks were brought up which included the roles and responsibilities of supervisors in overseeing that a sustainable microcredit system is created by the CMC. Supervisors are responsible for ensuring that loans are paid back and collected on time, that CMC activities are sustained in communities, and that they keep records, carry out feasibility studies, and gain management and leadership skills.
The second training, conducted by Edrisa, was on how supervisors could better coordinate social mobilization activities and ensure that social mobilization agents implement activities on the ground. This training was the first of its kind. Social mobilization processes are an important corner stone in the success of Tostan’s program. Through the social mobilization process of organized diffusion, participants gain the confidence to share new knowledge and attitudes taught from CEP classes with their family, friends, and neighbors. Communities can also adopt neighboring villages. The training reinforced Tostan’s mission and also explained the importance of social norm change and the responsibilities of social mobilization supervisors.
The training session further reinforced supervisors’ skills in these two areas of their work and hopefully will enhance their supervision capacities in the field. These trainings will be continued on regular basis to refresh the staff on these very important topics.
Story by Edrisa Keita, Assistant to the National Coordinator in Gambia, Tostan