On June 14, 2014, the Association for the Development of Bababé-M’Bagne, composed of former Community Management Committees (CMCs) gathered for an intervillage meeting in the village of Ferralla in the department of M’Bagne, Mauritania. This is part of a series of quarterly meetings where CMCs from over 40 villages from the department of M’Bagne and Bababé, who have directly or indirectly participated in Tostan’s Community Empowerment Program (CEP), discuss challenges and can seek help from others to overcome them. At the same time, action plans are prepared for the association as a whole to support and promote Tostan’s work in both departments.
In late 2010, after the first public declaration of abandonment of female genital cutting (FGC) organized by Tostan in M’Bagne, in collaboration with the CEP beneficiary villages, CMC members generated funding from which they later formed an Association. Since then the Association has continued to grow. The members themselves go to other villages that have not benefited from the CEP to raise awareness about community-led development.
Given the magnitude and excitement that their activities have aroused, the members have taken steps with the authorities to register as a community-based organization (CBO) and become eligible to receive funding from various donors for the projects they have developed. To be a member of the Association, a community must have participated directly in the CEP or have been adopted or sensitized by participant communities. Membership is open to all villages in the departments of M’Bagne and Bababé that have met the above conditions. Membership fees amount to 5000UM ($160), and quarterly meetings alternate between villages of the two departments.
Since its existence, the Association aims to ensure sustainability and to amplify the gains of the CEP, but also to raise awareness and adopt and encourage other villages to participate. Activities include promoting the abandonment of FGC and child/forced marriage, the importance of literacy, health and hygiene, as well as the implementation of a tontine to finance Income-Generating Activities (IGAs). Today the Association is training young people in how to make improved stoves because firewood is nonexistent in their villages and butane gas is expensive.
The president of the Association, Ndiaye Saidou, praised the Tostan program for teaching them basic concepts on health, hygiene, democracy, and human rights. He also acknowledged the positive impact of the program and their commitment to abandon harmful traditional practices.