FAO Regional Office for Africa

Dimitra Clubs strengthen rural communities in Niger

A truly Gender sensitive Communication tool

Photo/FAO @Eliane Najros

4 May 2016, Nyamey - FAO Representative in Niger, Mr. Lassaad Lachaal, launched "Zoom on the Dimitra Clubs in Niger" stressing the important role played by Dimitra Clubs* in the development of rural communities through information and gender-sensitive participatory communication.

"The Dimitra Clubs are adapted to the context of rural areas because they address a variety of topics such as food security, nutrition, increase in agricultural production, adaptation to climate change, health, education, access to markets and services, economic empowerment of women," said Mr. Lachaal. 

This one-day meeting brought together over sixty participants, including women and men leaders, elected local officials, traditional leaders and government officials, representatives from the United Nations as well as national and international NGOs.

In Gamdou, in the eastern part of Niger (Zinder region), through exchanges on climate change within the Dimitra Clubs, local women had "the ingenious idea to collect, dry and store Jew’s mallow for sale in the city as a condiment", the FAO Representative in Niger pointed out with enthusiasm.

"The profitable selling prices helped to alleviate the shortfalls due to low production of millet as the result of unpredictable rainfall. This idea was taken up by the surrounding villages and even beyond. This became an example of an interesting endogenous social protection mechanism established by the community to adapt to change by creating a new market," he added.

Dimitra is an information and participatory communication project that aims to improve the visibility and empowerment of rural people, particularly women. It benefits from the financial support of the Belgian Cooperation.

Ms. Christiane Monsieur, FAO-Dimitra International Project Coordinator, stressed that "the project developed the Dimitra Clubs approach, which has been successfully implemented in other countries of sub-Saharan Africa, such as Burundi, DR Congo, Ghana and Senegal".

The approach highlights the key role of men and women so that their respective interests and participation in the development of their communities are better taken into consideration. 

In Niger, this gender-sensitive social mobilization and participatory communication approach, aims to bring about behavioural changes and gender equality.

It is also used as an entry point by IFAD, UN-Women and WFP under the leadership of FAO, through the Joint Program on "Accelerating the economic empowerment of rural women." Their use has enabled good local coordination and monitoring of all the activities of the four agencies.

"We have taken on the responsibility of our existence, the health of our environment, of our children and we have also understood that we need to ban certain practices such as forced marriage and early marriage," emphasized Ms. Zouera Nouhou, a woman leader of the Banizoumbou village, located about sixty kilometres east from Niamey.

Through the capacity development of rural people, particularly women, information dissemination and exchange of experiences, the FAO-Dimitra Clubs have also supported the work of local municipalities. "The clubs supplement us, they even perform tasks that the municipalities should tackle in regard to sensitization, hygiene and sanitation," added Mr. Boubé Boukata, a representative of the Mayor of Falwel in the region of Dosso, in the south of the country.

The FAO-Dimitra Clubs were established in Niger for the first time in 2009. Thanks to the success of their initiatives, their number has significantly increased and there are currently more than a thousand.

They are present in 247 villages, spread out in 27 towns of 6 regions. They include 25,335 direct members, of which 16,270 (nearly 60%) are women.

 

* Dimitra is named after Demeter, the ancient Greek goddess of agriculture and harvests.

For more information about FAO-Dimitra, visit our website, available in English and French.

 

Contact: [email protected], FAO-Niger Communication