In late November 2020, Aide et Action, in partnership with Plan International, launched a new project to support women and youth in northern Togo — a region that is experiencing growing insecurity in terms of economy and public safety.
Our new project called “Savanes Motoag” (“Living together in the Savannahs” in the national language) aims to respond to a double problem that Togo currently faces.
First, there is the deterioration of security within the context of the Sahel. With an extension of violent extremism towards the South, correlated with the porosity of the borders, the border municipalities of the Savannas of Togo with Burkina Faso are becoming particularly vulnerable. As we have seen recently with the kidnapping of more than 300 high school students from a boarding school in Nigeria, the modus operandi of extremist groups is mainly to target marginalized youth by offering them an easy and quick source of income and an opportunity to assert themselves, feel useful and included.
Second, the Savannah region is the poorest in the country and access to economic opportunities for young people is very limited. Typically, the choice lies between either predominantly subsistence agriculture – not very productive and not very resilient to climatic shocks – or work in cities where options in the formal sector are almost non-existent. This economic marginalization of young people often exacerbates their feelings of social exclusion leading to a source of potential insecurity for the whole region.
Empowering women and youth and preventing violent extremism
To meet these challenges, our project in partnership with Plan International launched on November 26, 2020, with the support of political and administrative authorities. Under the project, we will support 6,200 vulnerable young girls, boys, women, and men, aged between 15 and 35, over a period of four years.
We will initially focus on supporting those who have dropped out of school without professional qualifications, craftspeople who have learned a trade but lack entrepreneurial knowledge and the means to get started, or young people without a job following academic training. The aim is to strengthen their economic empowerment, their participation in local decisions and their sense of belonging to the community.
We will also support a further 9,000 women over the age of 35; those who are carrying out mainly agricultural activities or activities with low economic impact and have low incomes. Unequal power relations and gender norms prevent women from owning land or having control over their resources but through better participation in peace initiatives, training in leadership and local governance, and a contribution to the management of public affairs, we aim to increase women’s involvement in the process of development and governance of local communities.
The Savanes Motoag project also aims to support government actions in the prevention of violent extremism in the Savanes Region in Togo. Its overall objective is to strengthen social cohesion by promoting the political and economic rights of young people and women, and to strengthen the capacities of civil society and state institutions at the local level.