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Community Development Project Improves Living Conditions for Thousands in Togo

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  • The World Bank is providing seed money for transformative investments based on priorities identified by rural communities and implemented by them
  • The approach, known as community-driven development, has helped build and rehabilitate schools and feed thousands of schoolchildren, raising enrollment rates to unprecedented levels
  • Thanks to this method, 14,000 farmers have generated higher agricultural output, which helped keep food prices low at local markets

LOMÉ, March 18, 2011—For two years now, thousands of lives across Togo have been positively changed by the World Bank-funded Community Development Project (CDP).

Launched in February 2009, the CDP operates mainly in rural areas, where it supports the implementation of development priorities identified by grassroots communities, empowering the poor to take charge of their own development.

Actions funded to date include building classrooms and health centers; connecting agricultural villages to commercial centers; providing resources for income-generating activities; as well as improving food security. The project is a concrete example that clearly reflects the World Bank’s mission of poverty reduction.

Investing in health, education, and infrastructure

The project has improved the working conditions of teachers and students, and provided opportunities for poor children to access primary education. Beneficiary schools received additional infrastructure, such as offices, furniture, latrines and water fountains. A mid-term review conducted in January 2011 showed that a total of 271 classrooms have been constructed and rehabilitated. About 36 000 children benefit from the school feeding program, which has helped increase enrollment and success rates, reaching an impressive 95 to 100 per cent in some areas. The meals are prepared by local women, which helps boost family incomes. “Prior to CDP’s investments in our community, less than 100 children were enrolled in our school,” said Nakpalle Lalle, a primary school principal in Sankortambima. “Thanks to the program, last year’s enrollment reached 200; and this year we processed 232 registrations.”

Other socio-economic infrastructure carried out by the project at mid-term include the establishment of a dozen health centers in remote communities, as well as construction or rehabilitation of rural roads to link villages to commercial centers. Some communities opted for sheds in markets to provide better working conditions for traders; others built community latrines to improve sanitation; and still others drilled boreholes to give communities access to safe drinking water.

Lending a hand up

Another component of the CDP consisted in helping poor communities undertake economic activities to meet their needs. A total number of 233 organized groups have benefitted from this component of the project, which resulted in a positive change in the living conditions of the beneficiaries. The Market Gardeners’ Association of Danyi, which has 403 members living in 28 different villages, nearly doubled its income. Its revenues spiked from FCFA 6 million (about US$12,000) the season before the funding, to FCFA11 million the season after. “Households can now easily address some basic needs, such as schooling for children or medical care,” according to Gabla Kokou, the president of the association. “In addition, we have created jobs in the villages, including for the idle who otherwise would have committed robberies.”

In the wake of the global food crisis of 2008, the project has developed a component aimed at helping increase cereal production and improving food security throughout the country. In all, 14,000 farmers received 4,275 tons of fertilizers and 304 tons of improved seeds for their farming activities. Several beneficiary groups saw their cereal production double from about 0.8 to 1.8 tons or even 2 tons per hectare. As a result, cereal prices remained at affordable levels in local markets, which helped improve food security. Farmers’ living conditions have also improved thanks to higher revenue, despite some difficulties in selling large quantities.

Significant challenges remain

The Community Development Project has, undoubtedly, achieved significant results. But important challenges exist which need to be addressed: there are still poor school and health infrastructure here and there, and many communities that have not yet benefitted from the project have requested to be included. For the Plateaux region alone, 580 applications are pending. “The needs expressed by the Plateaux communities amount to more than FCFA10 billion. When you compare this with the total amount of the project – slightly more than FCFA16 billion – you will see that the challenges ahead are immense,” says Yawo Nayo, the regional coordinator of the project implementation unit.

The Community Development Project has a remaining life period of about 18 months and has already disbursed 70 per cent of its allocation of US$32.4 million. The funds are derived from the International Development Association (IDA), the branch of the World Bank Group that provides non-repayable grants and zero-interest loans to low-income countries. Other contributors include the Global Food Response Program (GFRP), which was put in place to respond to the food crisis, and the Crisis Response Window (CRW), which was established to help provide a cushion for low-income countries during the global financial crisis.

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