Report from West Africa Region

    This document has been made available in electronic format
         by the International Co-operative Alliance ICA 
                         October, 1996

     (Source: Review of International Co-operation,
     Vol.89, No.3/1996, p.37-41)

                         West Africa
                    Ada Souleymane Kibora

West Africa continues to experience and to suffer the effects
of the economic crisis, structural adjustment programmes,
economic liberalisation and the partial or total withdrawal of
the State from many sectors. Despite the pronouncements and
publication of data with optimistic macro-economic parameters
and aggregates, the answer to the fundamental question of the
positive impact of all these measures on the day-to-day life
and the overall human and sustainable development of the
average African and the underprivileged masses remains

This situation also applies to co-operatives which, despite or
because of the economic liberalisation and withdrawal of the
State, continue to experience the same problems with funding,
management, marketing and members' participation.

Emergence of Viable Apex Co-operative Organisations
The programme consists of carrying out monographic and
analytical studies in a co-operative sector where the need is
felt and where there is a potential for institutional
organisation as well as a favourable environment. 

ROWA assisted in the emergence of an Artisanal Producers and
Service Co-operative Federation (FECOPAS) in Benin. FECOPAS
brings together some thirty co-operatives.

Burkina Faso
At the request of the Agricultural and Vegetable Farmers
Co-operative Union of Burkina (UCOBAM), ROWA provided
assistance for the emergence of a national structure bringing
together, based on free membership, various rural
organisations from the country.

Consolidation of Co-operative Apex Organisations
This programme is aimed at providing support to the
institutional consolidation and autonomy of already existing
Unions and Federations through the retraining and development
of their human resources. The final beneficiaries of this
programme are the co-operatives affiliated to the Unions and
Federations as well as the individual members, those of the
elected organs and the employees of these organisations.

Union Nationale des Co-operatives Agricoles du Senegal (UNCAS)
At the end of November 1994, eight village sections in the
region of Diourbel received ROWA support for the training of
90 functional literacy instructors. Next, it was the duty of
these instructors to share their skills by training management
committees and/or holding literacy classes in their respective
village sections. In 1995, ROWA  agreed to fund the follow-up
to the project for the Thially village section. Thus there

i)   functional literacy training for the management committee
     and the health unit, and the establishment of a savings
     and credit fund for the members;

ii)  functional literacy training for the management committee
     and a 79-member savings and credit fund;

iii) the opening of a functional literacy class to provide 12
     or 13 days of courses per month.

Union de Diboua - Cote d'Ivoire

The activities carried out for this Union involved the
organisation of several training sessions spread over a period
of eight months for the following target-public and in the
following areas:

i)   cash management for the cashier and accountants of the
     affiliated co-operatives; 

ii)  inventory management for 15 storekeepers;

iii) training of the Director of the Union in management using
     the computer;

iv)  audit and internal control techniques and procedures for
     15 auditors;

v)   co-operative organisation and management for 20
     Management Committee members.

Societe des Co-operatives Agricoles d'Agboville
(SCAGBO) - Cote d' Ivoire

This Union of pre-co-operative groups was able to undertake,
with assistance from ROWA, the following activities:

i)   training of the Director in marketing techniques;

ii)  retraining of the cashier in cash management and

iii) training of 13 Management Committee members in financial
     statement preparation techniques;

iv)  training in co-operative management and organisation for
     20 co-operators and  employees.

Collectif des Cliniques Co-operatives de Sante du Benin
This form of co-operative, which is an innovation in West
Africa, requested and obtained support from ROWA to organise
training sessions in: 

i)   accounting for 10 treasurers of Co-operative Clinics
     affiliated to the Group; 

ii)  co-operative organisation and financial management for
     the Management Committee members.

Association des Co-operatives pour le Development Rural
(ACOODER), Benin
At the request of ACOODER, ROWA supported a multi-phase human
resource development programme: 

i)   the training of 20 literacy instructors, including 10
     women in charge of the functional literacy training of

ii)  the functional literacy training of 500 members in 20
     literacy training centres in reading, writing, and basic

iii) training in the organisation and management of
     co-operatives for 20 learners.

Federation Nationale des Co-operatives de Consommation
(FENACOOP) - Cape Verde
In order to improve book-keeping methods in its unions and
primary co-operatives, FENACOOP submitted a project document
to ROWA for book-keeping training sessions. In 1995, ROWA
funded sessions in the islands of Maio and San Antao. These
sessions brought together 27 employees of the member consumer
co-operatives and Unions of FENACOOP.

Creating an enabling environment for Co-operative Development
Contribution to improving the environment of co-operatives was
made through studies of co-operative legislation, and through
support to deliberations on, and the drawing up of new
co-operative policies in certain countries in the sub-region.
Thus, in 1995, studies and local, regional and national
meetings were organised in Guinea-Conakry and Cote d'Ivoire.

In Guinea-Conakry
ROWA, at the request of the FAO, led a consultative mission
whose objectives were:

i)   the evaluation of a support project for rural

ii)  the planning and organisation of analytical studies and a
     national seminar on co-operative policy; 

iii) the co-ordination of a study on co-operative legislation
     and the drawing up of a draft law.

In Cote d'Ivoire
ROWA contributed to the funding of activities that led to the
amendment of the co-operative legislation. The participatory
approach adopted was as follows:

i)   data collection and consultation with co-operators at the
     basic level; 

ii)  the organisation of five regional seminars to compile and
     analyse the information and data collected during the
     preceding phase; 

iii) the drawing up of an initial draft legal document based
     on the results of the first two phases; 

iv)  the organisation of a national seminar to present and
     discuss the results of the regional seminars and to
     analyse and amend the draft legal document. A draft law
     has been submitted to the Government for review 

In Guinea-Conakry and Mali
Analytical studies were conducted, followed by national
seminars. New policies are being drawn up in these two
countries with the help of the studies undertaken or sponsored
by ROWA.

Integration and enhancement of the participation of women in
The aim of the project is to support and promote the
participation and integration of women in the co-operative
development process, through funding for training (management,
organisation of co-operatives) and the establishment of
income-generating activities (micro-investments, savings, loan
guarantee funds).

FENACOOP - Cape Verde
ICA/ROWA and FENACOOP undertook in 1995 to retrain and give
further training to 30 women members of consumer
co-operatives. They were thus able to deepen their knowledge
and to acquire new tools of analysis, organisation and
management to make them more apt to fulfil their functions in
the consumer co-operatives affiliated to FENACOOP. 

UNCAS - Senegal
In 1995, following the training of rural volunteers in 1993
and the training of literacy instructors in 1994, UNCAS sought
the support of ROWA for the training of 10 women supervisors
for the Regional Union of Co-operatives of Diourbel (URCAD).
They were to be supervised by the team of rural volunteers
operating in the region. These women supervisors were chosen
from among women with basic formal education (Ordinary-Level
or less) in the village sections; their mission is to serve as
intermediaries between the women's groupings and partners and
to train women in the initiation and management of
income-generating activities. 

After a year and a half of operations, in October 1995,
ICA/ROWA received and analysed the follow-up report of the
project entitled "Very Small Credit to Women" (TPCF) whose
objectives were:

i)   to help women living in modest conditions in villages
     where funds of the FECECAM network are established to
     undertake or improve income-generating activities with
     loans; most of the women opted for individual petty trade

ii)  to encourage and motivate women to become members of the
     Local Funds for Mutual Agricultural Loans (CLCAM). An
     evaluation of the project was made in February 1996 by
     independent consultants.

After a sensitisation campaign, this new product was
introduced in the market in September 1994 in the form of a
small credit fund allocated to five local funds. FECECAM's
projections were to integrate 1,200 members a year. At the end
of a year and a half, the TPCF was so successful that FECECAM
was obliged, due to pressure from the women, to put 10% of the
outstanding credits of each CLCAM at the disposal of the TCPF.
This operation also made it possible to see the importance of
the preliminary training necessary for the good management of
the loans by the women.

Regional Consultations
In October 1994, ICA/ROWA and the FAO organised a Regional 
Bilingual Workshop in Abidjan on the Integration of Women in
Agricultural Co-operatives in West Africa. Following this
seminar, ROWA funded national studies on women. Four national
consultants carried out a study aimed at validating the
conclusions and recommendations of the seminar in the
following countries: Benin, Cape Verde, Cote d'Ivoire and
Senegal. After their reports had been submitted, a restricted
meeting was held in Abidjan in June 1995 to draw up ROWA's
Regional Action Plan and a specific plan for each member
organisation that are immediately applicable in order to
improve and enhance the participation of women in the
co-operative movement. This specific action plan will form an
integral part of ICA/ROWA's next four-year development plan
for 1997 to 2000.