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Case studies

Case Studies from West Africa

The AAILD (Association for the Support of Local Development Initiatives) works to encourage and support local initiatives in development

1995 Available in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese

Footsteps magazine issues on a wooden desk.

From: Training – Footsteps 22

Different approaches to training and facilitation

The AAILD approach.

THE AAILD (Association for the Support of Local Development Initiatives) is a non-profit making organisation in Burkina Faso, West Africa, with over 200 members. AAILD works to encourage and support local initiatives in development.

Their main objectives are…

  • reinforcing united action in the provinces
  • bringing awareness to the population about development problems
  • helping projects to consider social, economic and cultural matters
  • making sure that programmes include and encourage women and young people
  • distributing magazines and development newspapers
  • encouraging saving and credit schemes
  • protecting the environment.

The association does not belong to any political or religious denomination. It works in close co-operation with village groups, development organisations, village committees and various non-government organisations in Burkina Faso. It also has links with various publishing groups through which it publishes and distributes newsletters.

Power to the farmers

The main point regarding the AAILD’s approach to development is its determination to make the farmers become master of their own development. It does this by carrying out awareness sessions and by training. It helps farmers to achieve results that bring increases in yield and improvements to their quality of life.

This approach is based on the understanding that the solutions lie with the farmers. Farmers are helped to understand their situation and their problems better. AAILD helps them to realise that ready-made solutions cannot be found anywhere else. Solutions will come through the work of their own hands. Farmers can and must change their situation in their own local environment. This is when responsible commitment starts, and this explains the success of AAILD.

Support where it counts

With their success in training and project support, membership of AAILD has increased. So too have the number of needs and wishes of the members. AAILD chooses where to place support, taking into account these factors…

The farmers themselves must first identify their problems. Only then will they be likely to work out their own solutions.

The success rate of similar activities already carried out by villagers with AAILD’s help is an indication of their ability to carry out future improvements and activities.

The mobilisation level of the villagers in past actions should be high.

Through providing training and supervision of the villagers through their leaders, good results are achieved at the level of village offices. To be convinced of the effectiveness of these methods, one has simply to be present at a meeting where preparations are planned for specific activities.


AAILD is committed to partnership at all levels. The idea of partnership includes all political, economic or private relations. The AAILD is committed to building up partner links for the following actions…

  • contact with many outside organisations (often through projects)
  • involvement and participation at various meetings.

They would welcome hearing from other groups in Burkina Faso or neighbouring countries.

Awareness and training play an important part in the projects which AAILD works with. Their care about the farmers they work with is a key point for their success.

AAILD, 01 BP 3368, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

Diobass Project

by Nohoune Lèye

I have been working in a rural area for nearly 20 years. Diobass is the name of an area containing 20 villages just south of Thies in Senegal. We first began using methods aimed at restoring the relation between technicians and farmers in this area. Instead of technicians bringing a technical package to the farmers, farmers themselves become involved in the research. In this way they gain in understanding the potential of their land. We began using the name ‘Diobass Education’ to describe our methods of working. Our hopes were to make the best possible use of the resources of the area and the local capabilities of the farmers. The farmers’ knowledge is valued.

The name ‘Diobass Education’ now describes our approach to training in all rural areas. We need to understand the facts before putting forward solutions. A local proverb – ‘to learn to know the wind before fighting it’ – explains our first priority. Participants are asked to make an analysis of their community and area.

Learning with models

We use training techniques which bring together groups from different backgrounds, abilities and social classes. Trainees are encouraged to make a ‘model’ involving all the participants. They bring together all their observations, their ideas and any conclusions which they have made. A leader helps them to carry out this process. A model helps to show on a small scale what can be seen in real life. For example, a hedge or a windbreak can be represented by some small branches planted close together. A deep ravine can be shown by a small channel.

Models also help farmers to understand what may happen. For example, in order to show how rain water can wash away soil and plant nutrients, the leader makes a model to show what happens when it rains. A model of a sloping field with a trench at one end is made. The leader then takes a watering can and pours water at the top of the field. The water runs down the field into the trench. The farmers examine the water in the trench to see how much soil it contains.

The understanding eye

We believe that whatever subject is being discussed should be in view. We move from one place to another! Models and practical demonstrations participants. They help people to think of imaginative ways of finding solutions to the problems. Their use introduces new elements into the teaching method. This method of learning helps farmers to think about practical ways of putting their knowledge into action when they return to their villages.

In the farmers’ own words, ‘We farmers do not understand very well with our ears. We understand better with our eyes!’ Our training aims to add words to the actions carried out by farmers themselves in the training.

Nohoune Lèye is the Director of the Diobass Project, BP 10, Khombole, Region Thies, Senegal, W Africa. His work has been written about in other documents as well, such as IIED Notes No.45 – September 1993.

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