After our visit to Somelassou and Adikrofoundi, we headed for the village of Afotobo, 45 minutes from Bouaké. There, we met the village elders who confirmed to us that the selection of beneficiaries who have received assistance was done according to a very strict criteria.
“We targeted the three most affected neighbourhoods of Afotobo where we counted the inhabitants. From these, we chose those who were the most indigent in the presence of the village chief, the president of the youth, the president of the women and the village elders. There was no discrimination or choice based on affinity. Only the social criterion was considered,” confirms Pierre Yao.
A short distance from the village chief’s house, we had the pleasure of meeting Jacqueline Kouamé, a mother of six. Sitting in her open-air kitchen, she was in the process of preparing lunch for her family.
“From the 50,000 CFA francs that I received, I used 30,000 CFA Francs to buy cassava and make *athieke, which I sell in Abidjan (the capital). This gives me a profit of 5,000 to 10,000 CFA Francs from each sale,” says Jacqueline, with a smile.
After our discussion with Jacqueline, we were informed that one of her neighbours would also like to show us something. He led us to his field where his wife, Clémence Nguessan, is waiting for us. Joseph Yao Koffi is 68 years old and this field that he loves to cultivate with his wife and children, is one of his most cherished possessions.
“Look at this field…. Isn’t it beautiful? I have 2 hectares where my family and I grow yams, cassava, chilli, maize and okra. Using the money that I received, I plan to expand my field and maybe one day, my grandchildren will benefit from this investment,” says Joseph, with much excitement in his eyes.
Before we completed our field mission, we went to the headquarters of the Regional Directorate of Social Protection of Gbêkê where its Director, Sib Gotouré, was waiting for us.
“We are pleased to hear about the assistance from ARC because it complements one of our key projects — the productive social safety net project. Indeed, some villages that were not beneficiaries of the productive social safety net project have been integrated and have benefitted from this financial support”, informs the Director.
“Thanks to these two government interventions, we have seen the development of new practices in the villages after our awareness campaigns. Some villages have created income-generating activities such as cassava cultivation, poultry farming and many others,” he adds.
“There is a real need on the ground, and we can only hope that there will be additional support to meet the high demand,” he said, closing his remarks.
This concluded our journey through the land of Gbêkê. The stories we heard there were touching and fully demonstrated that with a little help, it is possible to build a better future and a solid foundation for better resilience, an entrepreneurial mindset and inclusive society. This is the value of anticipatory and forecast-based natural disaster risk management (DRM) which promotes adaptation and resilience. Without the ARC DRM approach which avails financial assistance to participating Member States, vulnerable communities would resort to negative coping mechanisms, including forced migration, selling off productive assets, etc.
* Cassava couscous, a speciality of the Ivory Coast.