Laura Granado, from the Africa & Middle East team in the Secretariat writes about her experiences in Senegal, where she and Servaas Feiertag travelled as part of the Advocacy and Legal Centre programme in francophone Africa. For more information on the programme please write to Laura firstname.lastname@example.org or Servaas email@example.com.
More than 68,000 citizens have approached the Transparency International’s Advocacy and Legal Advice Centres seeking for free assistance and advice.
Since July, citizens of Senegal are now able to visit or call the new regional Centre in Thiès, the third largest city of Senegal. It is important that the Centres do not only remain in capitals, but also reach out to regions.
I and Servaas, together with the chapters from Cameroon, Madagascar, Mauritius, Niger and Senegal, travelled to Senegal to attend the 2nd Workshop of the programme funded by the European Commission that included the opening of the Centre.
We provided training in project and financial management to our teams in the Centres of the five francophone countries to improve the running of their Centres. During the workshop, Forum Civil, the Senegalese chapter of Transparency International had a chance to present their experience with the Centres and their work on reaching out to rural communities in the country. It was extremely interesting for me to learn about how the chapter is able to work with the population in the regions using convoys with loudspeakers that allow citizens to come to the vehicle, ask questions and receive information on the Centres.
My highlight of the trip was the visit to Thiès where the opening ceremony of the new Centre took place. This beautiful and meaningful event congregated hundreds of citizens come from all corners of the country. The public included members of the local sections of the Senegalese chapter, highly organised women and young volunteers associations, theatre groups, young artists, and many other people who voluntarily collaborate with the chapter to promote transparency in their towns and villages. All these people contribute to the fight against corruption with their own (and powerful) means: theatre, poetry, music, and often simply through words.
|Anti-corruption plays portraying corruption in health care services|
The ceremony was moderated by a famous national radio speaker. We witnessed several theatre plays representing common acts of corruption in Senegal, but also a poem recital and a hip-hop song, both inspired by the fight against corruption and written and interpreted by young committed local artists.
It was great to see that both the workshop and the opening event were attended by numerous journalists from local and national TV and radio channels, known for bringing “real news happening to real people” closer to the population.
The event was a wonderful opportunity to show the public what an excellent opportunity the new Centre is offering to curb corruption, in particular to the region of Thiès. But also to realize once more that through appropriate, well functioning tools an organised civil society can contribute to make change happen.