Togo: strengthening social cohesion by promoting the political and economic rights of young people and women

Photo credit: Vincent Reynaud-Lacroze

At the end of November 2020, Aide et Action started a new project in Northern Togo, in partnership with Plan International. Its objective is to respond to the current economic and health risks in the region by supporting young people and women in particular. 

Our new project called "Savanes Motoag" ("Living together in the Savannahs" in the national language) aims to respond to a twofold problem currently facing Togo. Firstly, the deterioration of the security context in the Sahel. With the spread of violent extremism towards the South, correlated with the porosity of the borders, the border communes of the Savannahs of Togo with Burkina Faso are becoming particularly vulnerable. As we have seen again recently with the abduction of over 300 high school students At a boarding school in Nigeria, the modus operandi of extremist groups is to target marginalised youth by offering them a quick and easy source of income and an opportunity to be assertive, useful and included.

Secondly, the Savanes region is the poorest in the country and access to economic opportunities for young people is very limited. Indeed, they essentially have the choice between a predominantly subsistence agriculture, which is not very productive and not very resilient to climatic shocks, or work in the cities where options in the formal sector are almost non-existent. This economic marginalisation of young people exacerbates their sense of social exclusion and becomes a source of potential insecurity for the whole region. 

Empowering and enabling young people and women

To meet these challenges, our project, which was officially launched on 26 November 2020 in the presence of Plan International, our partner, and with the support of the political and administrative authorities, plans to support 6,200 vulnerable young men and women, aged between 15 and 35, over a period of 4 years. The first target group is young people who have dropped out of school and have no vocational qualifications, craftsmen who have learned a trade but lack the entrepreneurial skills and means to start up, or young people who are unemployed after completing their academic training. The aim is to strengthen their economic empowerment, their participation in local decision-making and their sense of belonging to the community. 

The second target group consists of 9,000 women over the age of 35. They are engaged in mainly agricultural activities or activities with low economic impact and have a low level of income. Unequal power relations and gender norms prevent them from owning land or having control over their resources. Through increased participation in peace initiatives, training in leadership and local governance and contribution to governance, our aim is to involve them more in the process of development and governance of local communities. 

Preventing violent extremism

The Savanes Motoag project also aims to support the government's actions in the prevention of violent extremism in the Savanes Region of Togo. Its overall objective is to strengthen social cohesion by promoting the political and economic rights of youth and women, and to build the capacity of civil society and state institutions at the local level.

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