“The Village Communication Relays Workshop in Bandafassi, Senegal”, May 2021

The village communication relays of the Watigueleya Kèlê programme gathered with the project team for a training session in Bandafassi from 24 to 28 May.  The training began on Monday 24 May in the community village of Bandafassi, with a few words of welcome and a tribute to Lanciné Camara, village communication relay of Damaro (Guinea) who died recently. The Watigueleya Kèlê team dedicated this meeting to the memory of Lanciné.

Subsequently, the villagers were able to view the local knowledge reports they had made and discuss with the other villagers, Donkosira and the research team about how to improve future reports. John Kalapo, President of Donkosira, was able to give advice on the form of the report and the framing. Marie Rodet, Programme Director, reminded the audience of the difference between contribution and reportage, and gave advice on how to get rich content, by asking questions to the interviewee to develop the topic. The issues of consent of those being filmed were also recalled. Mamadou Cissé, Secretary General of Donkosira, also led a session on local history and its sources, including village elders. As for the rest of the workshop, translation into Bambara and Peuhl was provided by the village communication relays and Donkosira members, to ensure understanding and participation by all participants.

The second day was devoted to a visit to the Bedik village of Ethiouar. As the historic village is located at the top of the hill overlooking Bandafassi, the village communication relays gathered at the community village for the start. On the way up, Bernadette, a village communication relay from Bandafassi, showed the women of the project the place where the women of the village extract clay and where men are not allowed to enter. In Ethiouar, the participants were able to meet the chief of the Bedik village, who shared with the village communication relays the history and traditions of the village. Jacques Camara, village communication relay of Bandafassi, showed them the surroundings of the village, especially a cave that is closely linked to its history. Finally, a guided walk to the Ethiouar well gave rise to a presentation of the plants used locally for food, handicrafts and health.

The issue of advocacy was addressed on Wednesday, during a training session led by Illia Djadi, an international advocacy consultant, for the village communication relays. After an initial theoretical session on advocacy, the villagers worked in country groups to apply these tools and express their needs and proposals in a formalised framework. Marie-Christine Deleigne, in charge of the socio-economic survey, also presented some of the preliminary results of the survey conducted in February-March 2021, which were used for the practical exercise on advocacy.

During the workshop, there were moments of sociability and exchange between the village communication relays of the different villages, Donkosira and the research team, including an evening in the nearby town of Kédougou on Wednesday evening !

Thursday was an exchange between the village communication relays on their local knowledge, first in a theoretical session, where the villagers explained the different uses they made of local plants, and then through practical demonstrations. A workshop on canary making and fonio preparation was organised.

Finally, Friday was devoted to conclusions and recommendations: the villagers drew up a summary of each day of the workshop. The outcome of the workshop is very satisfactory. The village communication relays were strongly committed to participating in the various workshops, and showed a desire to deepen the content, develop new tools, continue the project and enhance its value.

A big thank you to the local authorities and the village communication relays of Bandafassi for their hospitality, as well as to all the village communication relays for their investment in the workshop!

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