Vision Of Development

Back To Basics

In rural areas, development starts with the ‘fundamentals’ – agriculture and stock farming, farmers’ two main activities” – Séda Bawiena, founder of CIDAP.

With more than 65% of the population in Togo living in rural areas and relying on farm work for their livelihood, the need for sustainable farming methods is crucial. In a country where social welfare. State fundings or agricultural subsidies are completely inexistent, farmers have to feed themselves and they also feed the urban populations. It is therefore imperative to create a close and complete cycle between agriculture and stock farming that enables farmers to exploit their resources as efficiently as possible. This cycle allows the bi-products of agriculture to be used to feed the livestock while animal waste – mixed with leaves and dead vegetation – is used to produce manure. The latter constitutes a major asset for the Nawdba farmer as it allows him to transform North Togo’s poor soil into a rich and fertile one.

Building A Future Anchored In Tradition

The CIDAP’s philosophy consists in employing traditional know-how and techniques (expertise in the region’s plants and sustainable farming practices) in addition to knowledge about the existing social structure, in order to formulate appropriate agrarian techniques by rehabilitating traditional practices while building upon them with modern techniques.

“Building modernity based on tradition”: this is the CIDAP’s development philosophy.

Empowering People

More than just combating arid lands and financial poverty in Northern Togo, the CIDAP aims to combat intellectual poverty among people in the region. For the centre’s founder it represents the region’s main obstacle to development. Recognizing the youth as development’s most promising actors, the CIDAP set up an institute specialized in youth training. Empowering a new generation capable of bringing about sustainable development would eliminate, in the long run, the local people’s reliance on external development agents that are more often than not disconnected from the local culture, lifestyle and needs. The Ifaéfa-basanté institute was hence created in 2003 to give the local population a stake in its own development, effectively training tomorrow’s socio-agricultural development agents.

For the past 25 years, the CIDAP has been training farmers on improved agricultural techniques. Thousands of farmers, men & women, get involved in every step of collective agricultural work – mainly by assisting in seasonal harvests – witnessing firsthand the increased yield brought about by these improved methods. By working in the CIDAP’s ‘experimental’ fields, farmers have the chance to take ownership of those new agricultural practices, making them more likely to employ these new techniques in their own fields.

The CIDAP’s aim is to empower Africans and encourage them to innovate solutions to their problems instead of waiting on the decisions and money of international development agencies. The guiding principal is that Africans need to bring about development by themselves and for themselves before they can properly take advantage of foreign aid.

Women At The Forefront

The establishment of CIDAP was only made possible by the participation of the local women. From its beginnings 25 years ago, the women were the first ones to collectively embrace what the CIDAP’s founder was proposing.
Acting as the spearheads of the CIDAP’s development and by the same token of their own communities’ development, these women formed the federation of BAKOTE women, an association of more than 300 women from neighboring villages.
Mutual help, community actions, rural bank followed, and their lives as well as that of their families have been forever transformed.

For development to succeed it has to come through women because they play a primordial role in African society. Any development project that ignores women is destined to fail” – Salim Dara, CIDAP secretary.

Supporting The Individual

Before organizing people collectively, one has to help people individually” – Justin Batanta, CIDAP.

When individuals are empowered and are able to develop, they transmit their knowhow to their kin, their family, peers and neighbors. Development is hence brought about collectively benefiting the entire community.

With this objective in mind the CIDAP gives precedence to individual support. The centre therefore supports the less fortunate – the elderly, widows, isolated women and orphans –  and it provides paid work  opportunities (very rare to find in the region) as well as widely disseminating techniques to restore the soil according to “improved” methods developed in collaboration with the local farmers.

Protecting The Environment

In the Nawda religious tradition & culture, every plant, every tree, every animal has a role and meaning in the world’s equilibrium between man and nature.

For the past 25 years the CIDAP has been deeply involved within local communities in the protection of the environment and the biodiversity (safeguarding forests & endangered species, fighting against wild bush fires) as well as the biological restoration of the region’s soil.

For the Nawdba, these practices represent the protection of nature in order to preserve a noble lifestyle. These methods rooted in respecting ancient beliefs also allow the community to capitalize on local tradition and ensure a stable future and sustainable development for men in harmony with the surrounding nature. Trees and forests enjoy a central place in the nawda culture, beliefs and knowhow. Protecting trees amounts to protecting the environment as well as the people, the society, its history and identity.

A Partnership From The Heart

25 years ago the CIDAP came into being as a result of the enormous efforts of its founder Seda Bawiena. This was complimented by the support of the local women as well as foreign friends and punctual aid from a few NGOs.

The CIDAP’s relationship with its partners is built on a respectful exchange of ideas always mindful of the preservation of CIDAP’s identity and vision.
Employing its unique position in society to truly gauge the community’s needs, the CIDAP always is the initiator of projects, proposing them to its partners and only accepting their financial or logistical support when the partners agree with the its vision and objectives.

The CIDAP’s partners are first and foremost friends of the centre. It is a partnership of the heart and of conviction for the development of Africa by Africans.

The CIDAP’s current partners are Apatam (Franco-Senegalese NGO), ASTM (Luxemburg NGO) as well as friends in Germany and France.

Future Projects

The creation of an artisanal processing centre for the CIDAP’s products (dried fruits, jams, bread, biscuits, drinks etc) is currently under way. These will in turn be marketed in the region and in the capital Lomé.

The CIDAP has been attempting to secure its access to electricity and running water– of which a large part will be generated by solar energy.

The CIDAP also hopes to open a clinic on site to treat the centre’s employees, students and farmers who work or get trained at the centre.

A hugely refreshing documentary about Africa

- Becky Hawketts, Cambridge Film Festival Daily