Breeding information points in Sahel: the project is on the move

The National Civic Service of Senegal, new partner of ICVolunteers
Irene Amodei
18 October 2007

Participants from several African and European countries attending the round table meeting held on September 21, 2007 at the International Conference Center in Geneva were witness to the signing of a new partnership agreement between the  National Civic Service of Senegal (SCN) and ICVolunteers. Souleymane Diamé Guéye, the Programme Administrator, describes the SCN as a structure under the auspices of the Ministry for Youth and Employment which promotes citizenship, active participation and volunteerism among young people.

The SCN is an alternative to the military service and offers different areas of involvement, such as the environment, health, literacy and digital solidarity. It mobilizes 18 to 35 year old students or graduates "in the building of national works." In 2003, recalls Mr. Guéye, "the SCN initiated the 'Agriculture Volunteers Programme', which aims to recruit young people from rural communities (10 to 15 per village) to train them on the techniques of agriculture and modern husbandry."

The theoretical and practical training of volunteers last for three weeks and is done through a boarding school seminar. At the end of this training, the volunteers return to their villages, ready to make the most of the land provided by the community for a period of two years. Since 2003, the SCN has trained 1054 volunteers and has created 75 agricultural farms in all the departments, but mainly in the most remote villages.
The collaboration with ICVolunteers started in 2006, in the context of the preliminary study for the project on Breeding Information Points in the Sahel Region

Before the signing of the agreement, Viola Krebs, Executive Director of ICVolunteers, noted that "this partnership is to value the important work carried out by SCN." She continued by saying that "the aim is to work with the Agriculture Volunteers as information connectors in the field for the implementation of what we call Breeding Information Points."

These information points will simultaneously be contributed to and utilized by the stockbreeders and the other participants of the network. These 'points' will thus help in the distribution and dissemination of information related to epidemiology, the weather, the environment and socio-economic issues. They will also help raise awareness among the most vulnerable populations about sustainable and responsible management of livestock, by increasing the development, use and marketing of livestock products and, in the long run, by reducing the vulnerability of the pastoral communities.

"In Africa, information needs to become a main means of development," pointed out Djibrill Fall, researcher and project manager. "It's not just about information distributed from the top to the bottom, but rather, general basic information, which can circulate at all levels. The idea is to build a network which connects development experts with local organizations providing or exchanging with them useful information about the treatment of clean water, rain prediction, and market trends."

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