FAO-Dimitra Community Listeners’ Clubs explore changes in their communities
For improved living conditions, food security and reduced rural poverty
3 September 2014, Damongo, Ghana - A cross section of members of the FAO Dimitra Listeners’ Clubs (CLC) in the West Gonja District of the Northern Region of Ghana have met in Damongo to stimulate discussions, exchange experiences and identify the main changes in the communities where the CLCs were set up since the inception of the project in April 2013.
The forum, convened by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations’ and its partner organization, the Association of Church Development Project (ACDEP), brought together over 80 representatives from the Community Listeners’ Clubs (CLCs) in eighteen communities of the district and other key stakeholders.
Mr. Yannick De Mol, Gender and Communication Specialist of the FAO-Dimitra project, called for a sustainable livelihood for the smallholder farmer in the various communities where the Dimitra Listeners Clubs have been established. “The forum is an important step of the project and contributes to ensure the socio-economic empowerment of rural populations, women in particular, in order to improve their living conditions, food security and reduce rural poverty”, he said. Yannick encouraged participants to emulate the successes of the Dimitra Listeners Club in other countries such as Senegal, Niger and Democratic Republic of Congo.
The District Chief Executive of the West Gonja District, Hon. Ali B. Kassim on his part observed: “Food security relies, first and foremost, on the capacity of small women and men farmers to feed their communities, countries and entire generations. Indeed, they are the main providers of food, especially in sub-Saharan Africa”.
“Nevertheless, these are among the most disadvantaged due to a number of constraints, stemming from living in isolated areas, gender inequality, and limited access to information and services, inputs and markets”, Hon. Kassim added, appreciative of FAO collaboration with local partners in support of local institutions.
Building on experience
The key changes identified by the participants include: improved access to information and opportunity to express their views, development of income generating activities and gender equity within the CLCs and in the community. The current Ebola outbreak in West Africa shows that support in behaviour change (feeding habits, sanitation and agricultural practices) and social cohesion is of the utmost importance and needs to be addressed.
A successful participatory approach
Dimitra is an international FAO initiative which promotes information exchange and participatory communication. Its activities are guided by a strong gender approach. It aims to support the socio-economic empowerment of rural populations, women in particular, in order to improve their living conditions and food security through a better access to information, communication and the exchange of knowledge, practices, experiences on agricultural and other issues. Since their first creation in 2006, the Dimitra Listeners’ Clubs has seen an enormous success worldwide among populations and development partners alike. Today, there are more than 1000 Dimitra Community Listeners’ Clubs in Niger, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal, Mauritania, Burundi and Ghana.
The Dimitra Listeners’ Clubs project in Ghana is a component of FAO’s Programmatic Regional Initiative to Reduce Rural Poverty (PRI) in Ghana, launched in 2013. The PRI focuses on rural poverty reduction and strengthening rural livelihoods, using the cassava value chain as entry point. It seeks to promote decent rural employment and income creation, specifically with respect to informal employment in agriculture, in agro-processing and in rural marketing enterprises and industries. Using an integrated approach, the PRI looks at the links between social protection and agricultural production, development of farmer-based organisations and people’s empowerment. In the framework of the PRI and in the effort to establish links among its different components three Community Service Centres will be created in the coming months. The Community Service Centres aim at addressing the bottlenecks and constraints along the Cassava value chain and they will be a real catalyst for the rural development in the West Gonja District. In this regard, it is essential that the members of CLCs share their views on how the clubs could be involved in CSCs.
David Youngs | Communications | FAO Ghana Office | Email : David.Youngs@fao.org