Senegal: Federation des Organisations Non Gouvernementales du Senegal (1996)

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

     (Source: INFO-COOP, Issue No.9, July, 1996, p.22-24)

          Federation des Organisations Non Gouvernementales
                  du Senegal - (FONGS) 
    This document has been made available in electronic format
         by the International Co-operative Alliance ICA 
                         July, 1996

     (Source: INFO-COOP, Issue No.9, July, 1996, p.22-24)

          Federation des Organisations Non Gouvernementales
                  du Senegal - (FONGS)
          Training experience of FONGS: the Exchange,
               Training and Support Programme.

Established in 1976 by a certain number of Senegalese farmers,
FONGS remained inactive until 1985, the year of the Ronkh
General Assembly, where after analysing the situation, the
delegates concluded that nothing can be done in ignorance, in
other words, without training no progress can be made.

However, they realised that several training programmes were
proposed to the farmers either by NGO's, by the State or by
training institutions. But these training programmes did not
often conform to reality that is with the concerns of the
rural world. They were conceived according to the needs of the
initiators. This resulted in:

Demobilisation : undergoing training without attaching any
importance whatsoever to it.

External domination :  training conceived externally.
Ineptitude: non-profitable training.

This G.A. made training the FONGS' priority with the objective
of reaching out to the maximum number of primary members.
A Training Secretary was appointed by the G.A. with the aim of
establishing training conceived by and for farmers based on
two major ideas:

No universal methods, that is to say that training should be
adapted to the realities of each society.

Several methods can be proposed in full awareness of the fact
that man learns primarily in his environment, on his own and
with his entourage.     

Which Lessons should be Drawn from PEFA
After about three years of implementing the 92-95 programme,
what lessons can one draw today from one of its components,
the PEFA (Exchange, Training and Support Programme)?

In 1991, the PEFA aimed at establishing a rural training
system based on the exchange of knowledge between persons
belonging to the same grouping or to different groupings and
reaching out to the greatest number of primary producers.

It was based on the principle that rural organisations are
part of a process and that each stage of this process is
hinged onto a well-defined type of support which one should be
able to identify. The basic tool was the review of capacities
composed of twelve areas considered strategic for development.

The review of capacities was expected to make it possible

1.   To know each other better: to know each other's strengths
     and weaknesses.

2.   To identify the training needs and areas in which to know
     the people better and to place them at specific training

3.   To identify trainers : identify skills better

4.   To reorient training : take adequate decisions for future
     actions, in full awareness of the consequences.

But after much reflection on the pertinence of this tool, it 
was agreed not to impose it as a basis of exchange but to
observe the direction in which such exchanges would be
spontaneously made to either confirm or not confirm the
assessment of skills.

Several lessons can be drawn from the initial exchanges of the
stimulation phase which were  later confirmed. We shall note
the most significant aspects.

Capacity Assessment Tools
Components not questioned are: the categories (the levels of
the pyramid) appear pertinent but incomplete in relation to
the concerns of the primary associations which are concerned
by these exchanges. Two-thirds of the concerns expressed
during the exchanges related to capacity assessment. One-third
of the concerns relate to the mastery of technical themes that
were not considered in the assessment.

This appears particularly interesting and encouraging for the
next stage of the programme on condition that the primary
groups do not reject the proposals but rather reflect on them
and base their decisions on their concerns.

In fact the one-third that is not taken into account concerns
themes of activities that the grouping would like to implement
but in which they do not have experience or themes in which
the grouping has some experience but has difficulties. 

The innovation here seems to be the use of the assessment or
the choice of other themes as the basis of exchange contrary
to the past where all organisations without exception were
obliged to accept the themes that were proposed to them.    

Development of Farmers' Knowledge
The exchange method made it possible to identify resource
persons who are not seasoned trainers, thus giving value to
endogenous capacities.

This restored the self-esteem of the farmers who realised that
knowledge cannot only be gained externally but that there are
internal capacities that one can depend on.

Reasoning was often in terms of resource groups and not in
terms of resource persons, which is rather in conformity with
the notion of collective capacity on which capacity assessment
is based.

Exchanges made it possible to draw up a list of farmers skills
to give an insight into the wealth of what members have to
offer in terms of knowledge and know-how in the technical,
economic, organisational or social areas.

The most determining factor appears to be the awareness of the
existence of and the wealth of this capital by the farmers who
were initially apprehensive about the local capacities as they
had always been used in the past to undergoing training : they
were given themes, grouped and given trainers.

Forms of Exchange
They were more varied and superior to what they were hitherto
used to and which constituted their point of reference :
sessions within four walls. The societies were able to revive
the old formulae which often led to their establishment but
which seemed shelved notably tours, days of reflection, the
Bevles worksites.

Exchange Upon Exchange
They were very interesting. They enabled various organisations
of a given region and in different regions to compare their
experiences and to improve their training strategies.

Quantitative Impact
It is very important because until the initiation of the PEFA,
not more than 300 people received training, and very often
this training was received by the same people constituting a
chain of leader-trainers who had all the information. The PEFA
made it possible to reach out in less than two years to over
4,000 farmers, primary producers who were very often left to
their own fate.

However, it is still difficult to assess the qualitative
impact as in the past. One is unable to determine the extent
to which the PEFA has improved the capacities of participants
in the exchanges.   

Joint Management of a Programme Belonging to Several
The implementation of the PEFA made it possible to try a new
form of association consisting in teaching the joint
management of a program belonging to autonomous entities. This
made one aware of the benefits of solidarity at the regional
level instead of the spirit of competition that  was hitherto

Today, associations in the same region feel a sense of
solidarity faced with the future and its challenges. They have
become aware that they cannot go it alone and so are seeking
to form alliances with other organisations in the region. But
to achieve this, their members first consolidate themselves
within the FONGS of a same region before opening up to others.

This new attitude (concept) can be rather positive in regard
to the planned regionalisation.

This management is beginning to lead to the true strengthening
of skills in the field of management and the planning of

The Impact of the Programme was mainly social
The PEFA mainly gave the people the opportunity to meet, to
know each other better, to improve their relations in regard
to possible alliances. However, although it is difficult to
estimate, knowledge was exchanged in several fields, but the
very short period made it difficult to assess the impact, that
is the improvements that occurred.

Absence of a Pertinent Diagnosis
The PEFA, especially enabled one to see the weakness in the
diagnosis for the determination of pertinent action, which
resulted in strategic and thematic disconnection.

In certain zones this disconnection was apparent in the fact
that the themes of exchange did not often correspond to the
actions undertaken or that the actions undertaken did not have
any bearing on the challenges.

A Research Process (Action)
The implementation of the PEFA engaged FONGS members in a
permanent process of researching and finding active solutions
in conformity with what we refer to as training in the tide of

Production of Tools
The various stages of the PEFA orientation led to intense
reflection on the production of tools for providing teaching


Name:                    Federation des Organisations Non
                         Gouvernementales du Senegal   
Acronym:                 FONGS     
Address:                 BP 269 THIES   
Telephone:               (221) 51-21-37 / 51-23-52     
Fax:                     (221) 51-20-59 
Operational Zone:        Nationwide     
Main Activity:           Training/Rural Activities     
Date of Establishment:   1976 
Chairman of MC:          Mrs. Sarr N'DEYE