A STORY ON COMMUNITY IN CÔTE D'IVOIRE
"TO CREATE CHANGE IN A COMMUNITY, ITS MEMBERS NEED TO GET INVOLVED."
By Cyrille N’Guessan, cocoa farmer and member and treasurer of the Gnandi Community Development Committee
In Côte d'Ivoire, Cocoa Life has partnered with Solidaridad West Africa to support community development. Through the creation of Community Development Committees (CODECs), local cocoa farmers can work together to create community action plans that prioritize their needs, including food security, child labor awareness, climate-smart farming, and women's empowerment. Cyrille N’Guessan is a cocoa farmer and 49-year-old mother of five daughters, ages eight to 30, from the village of Mamiankro. Here, she explains her experience as a member and treasurer of the Gnandi CODEC:
I decided to join the Gnandi CODEC in 2014, because I realized that to create change in a community, its members need to get involved. We are the ones who are living here and experiencing the problems. We know the constraints and the solutions that can improve our lives
Our CODEC is comprised of 15 cocoa producers, both men and women, from eight local villages. With the support of Cocoa Life, our CODEC developed a comprehensive community action plan that identifies our priority needs. We are currently working to solve these problems with community-based projects using local resources. For example, we are establishing tree nurseries to restore degraded community forests and produce firewood.
As part of the Cocoa Life project, I received training in different topics, such as good agricultural practices and community development. These lessons have opened my eyes and changed my mind-set.
In the training, I learned the importance of saving, budgeting, and planning ahead.
Food is already scarce during our dry season, and this year’s drought was alarming. Through my savings from the last year, I was able to take care of my family. I also saved enough to pay my daughters’ school fees. My plan is to have my children complete their education.
These financial skills are also used in my role in the CODEC. I’m proud to work as the treasury officer. I am in charge of planning expenses and fundraising for the operations. Getting involved in the process has encouraged me—and others—to take ownership of our community development. Participating in the CODEC has transformed my own life.
We are still in the early days of implementing our solutions, but the future looks bright. We are sowing the seeds of change. Our CODEC is mobilizing community members to take part in the development process and, with everyone on board, we will surely see benefits in our community.
FROM OUR PARTNER ADVANS
"We are working with Cocoa Life to give access to financial services to 12 farmer cooperatives acting as a third party agent. Advans, as a microfinance institution, provides microcredits to thousands of Cocoa Life farmers including women, members of Village Savings and Loans Associations."
Grégoire Danel-Fedou, Country Director for Advans Cote d’Ivoire