The idea of a caravan sprang up late in 2019 when an SCAC member happened to meet the AESCD president who represented the Cesson-Sévigné/ Dankassari Cooperation at the Sahel sittings of Poitiers’ Decentralised Cooperation (dec. 2019), and it was specified thanks another meeting in Nyamey (dec. 2019) to with two goals:
- Put forward cultural productions linked with cooperation –films, photo exhibitions…)
- Celebrate in Niger the 10-year anniversary of the lively cooperation.
First stage of the Caravan in 2020
The forty photos of the ‘Culture, Sport and Children’s Games in Dankassari” exhibition gather the photos of two exhibitions of the Nigerien photographer Abdoul Aziz Soumalaïa, giving a lively and colourful image of Dankassari, and emphasizing the rural community’s initiatives, its cultural value and the diversity of its population, as well as its sport events and children’s games: music, dance, Nigerien wresling, foot races, horse or camel races, handicrafts and traditional culture, langa-langa (hotchcop wrestling), hand games, toys made with local resources: millet straws, clay, in a colorful festival.
The films (video of 13 minutes each) Ruwa falala Lougou / Lougou has finally water and A trio of girls in Dankassari, by Nigerien filmmakers Idi Nouhou and Maman Siradji Bakabe, illustrate access to drinking water and the struggle against early marriages.
The franco-nigerien cooperation network was immediately available with approval from Niamey and Zinder CCFN’s, Maradi and Agadez Alliances, who extend their cultural missions for civilians with support from the French Embassy. The Matameye CLAC, supported by OIF also participated. This is consistent with implementing a civillian Area and PISCCA projects or else the Youth Olympiad in Niger., OJEN Project in 2019-2020 within FSPI.
The planned operations have taken place with a few months’delays owing to COVID. In each of the three sites, an operation took place in three stages:
- Friendly Grand Opening, as part of the cultural network program.
- Experience-sharing workshops.
- Open visits (pupils, network events).
The various actors were driven by their common enthusiasm.
- On a National level: the French Ambassador’s program speech, support from the minister and the High Commissary for the State modernization, involvement of Nigerien Mayors and of the Regional Association of Niger.
- On a Regional level: the Franco-Nigerien cultural network, involvement of representatives and civil society
- In Dankassari: Maman Chadaou ( the RAEDD supervisor) was present at every stage, and Abdoul Aziz Soumaïla at the fgrand opening and workshops.
The aim was to bring to notice the general extent of the decentralised cooperation, as well as that of Cesson-Sévigné and of Dankassari: it was reached.
Second stage of the caravan in 2021
Once the new Niger deliberative and executive organs of local organization were in place, the local representatives could again voice their fondness for the decentralized France-Niger cooperation, on June 5th 2021, on the occasion of a first meeting of the France- Niger decentralized Cooperation network. That meeting gathered over twenty participants, including a member of Parliament, two mayors, the decentralization and territorial collectivities general director as well as delegates from support facilities
It was followed in late afternoon by the grand opening of the photo exhibition about environment, and by an inter-school sports tournament between the Dogondoutchi and Dankassari pupils. The event was organized by the Tarbiyya Tatali Franco-nigerien, under the patronage of the AMN President, and was attended by the new Mayor of Dankassari. Funded within the French Embassy’s ‘Citizen Expression’ scheme, both exhibitions will play a part as events during the second ‘Decentralised Cooperation Caravan’, which will take place in Dogondoutchi and Dankassari, in the Dosso region.
The operations took place in August, from the 13th to the 16th in Dogondoutchi (conference, debate, film show and photography exhibition); and from August 17th to the 22nd 2021 in Dankassari (conference, debate, photo exhibition and a tour of five villages in Dankassari: Goubey, Dogontapki, Bawada-Guida, Nakigaza and Gofawa.).
In Dogondoutchi, the photography exhibition lasted four days at the HASKE Center, young people from all districts were invited through Dallol Community Radio announcements. For young people, the exhibition included culture, information and awareness, and led to more involvement in development projects. One hundred young people visited the exhibition every day, mostly young men.
In Dankassari, the photo exhibition attracted a flow of local visitors. Many visitors could recognize themselves or acquaintances. It even attracted people from neighboring villages. In the five villages targeted, the film shows and debates were highly successful.
All over, the cooperation caravan boosted local territorial partnership between the various agents of centralized cooperation (NGO’s, SCO’s, engineering services, common law authorities) as well as the new town councils of both districts, through cooperation on the one hand, and, on the other hand, by improving new representatives’ and citizens’ awareness of actions carried out within the cooperation.
The caravan enabled representatives, as well as the persons involved, to realize that decentralized cooperation aims mainly at promoting international solidarity, sustainable and balanced local development, and better experience and methods between decentralized bodies. Consequently, maintaining decentralized cooperation by improving people’s involvement turns out to be necessary for our young organizations. Several participants approved of the initiative, including the Dogondoutchi community development scheme director, who concluded that the caravan was highly necessary in order to strengthen communication and visibility in decentralized cooperation actions. Locally, the caravan’s impact perfectly reflects the project’s expected outcome, to the organizers’ total satisfaction.