Stakeholder Meetings Aid Successful Exit Strategies

Author: Diptesh Soni

With just over two years left to achieve the MDGs, Millennium Village Project sites must now find sustainable exit strategies by working with numerous stakeholders, particularly governments, in order to ensure the proper functioning and necessary support for the villages in the absence of the Projects.

At a recent forum in Louga near the Potou site, government representatives from the national to the local level sat down with civil society members from MVP and Plan International to discuss low enrollment rates in the region, particularly regarding Koranic education. The two-day session served as valuable opportunity to draft action plans for the future, understand the mutual difficulties faced in respective sectors, and to synthesize the interventions of development partners for a greater impact on the target population.

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”We organized this meeting to discuss the difficulties of implementing interventions among partners while trying to find solutions that can help to achieve a synergy of all these interventions,” recalled Serigne Fall, Inspector of Inspection d’Academie (IA) Louga, charged with managing and monitoring education within the region under the direction of Mr.Lamine Sarr, head of IA..

The fact that the meetings were organized and conducted by local representatives ensured that the decisions made were reflective of the community’s needs. Moreover, it is likely that the coordination and organization by local representatives helped ensure the attendance and participation of many diverse and influential stakeholders. Head Imams sat amongst school directeurs, department heads, and project managers, exchanging potential solutions to critical regional challenges.

Convening such stakeholders in one place was useful for disseminating information: MVP and Plan were able to more articulately explain their interventions to those involved who could in turn ask further questions if needed. In such a way, the forum helped clarify the intentions of the project to other stakeholders and avoid any misunderstandings.

Ateliers, or small group sessions, held on the second day proved useful for providing potential plans of action: pre-selected groups were given separate locations at which to read over documents listing further information on the challenges facing the sites and projects. They were asked to draft potential solutions, using the help of a moderator and a scribe, and those solutions were then announced and discussed in the larger open forum.

Following the forum, a Scientific Committee will draft a final action plan, which they will then disseminate and set about implementing within the region.

Overall, well-executed and community-driven stakeholder meetings serve as invaluable platforms for intervening partners to clearly explain their missions and work with local representatives to ensure the longevity of those interventions moving beyond 2015.

Diptesh is a Master’s candidate at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs studying Economic and Political Development with a regional specialization in Africa.

Images via Facebook/Ousmane Mbaye

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