Dimitra community listeners' clubs

Place: niger, Africa
Sustainable development of small rural communities Sustainable development of small rural communities
Total Budget: € 0,00 | Period: From April 2007 To


Improving access to information, giving a voice to rural women and men, communication, increasing women’s leadership, enhancing rural communities’ participation in their own development and promoting peoples’ empowerment: these are the main objectives of the FAO Dimitra community listeners’ clubs (CLCs). This participatory communication approach has been recognised by FAO and other development partners (Governments, Belgian Cooperation, UN agencies, etc) as a good practice that contributes to gender equality, food security and rural poverty reduction. CLCs have been established in six different countries in sub-Saharan Africa with about 25 000 members and more than 175 000 indirect beneficiaries. CLCs are groups of women and men who organize themselves to meet regularly and discuss their concerns and needs, collaborate with community radio stations and engage in collective action to solve their problems. This brings about sustainable changes in people’s life and in their communities


Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (Dimitra-Project) - Italy

Lead applicant

Achieving food security for all is at the heart of FAO's efforts – to make sure people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives. Our three main goals are: the eradication of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition; the elimination of poverty and the driving forward of economic and social progress for all; and, the sustainable management and utilization of natural resources, including land, water, air, climate and genetic resources for the benefit of present and future generations. The Dimitra project has been a project of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) since 1998 and receives financial support from the Belgian Development Cooperation. Dimitra also benefits from the support of other bi- or multilateral funding agencies in the framework of its field activities.

Radio Bubusa - Democratic Republic of Congo

Initiative partner

Radio Bubusa is the first Radio Community Radio Station to be founded by a group of women in South Kivu (DR CONGO). This Community Radio is a main partner of FAO-Dimitra.

AEDL Action Educative pour le développement local - Niger

Initiative partner

Association pour la promotion et l’éducation de base Rabi Niandou - Niger

Initiative partner

REFED-CONAFED Katanga - Democratic Republic of Congo

Initiative partner

Le Comité National Femme et Développement (CONAFED) est un réseau d’associations de femmes en République Démocratique du Congo. La mission du CONAFED consiste à promouvoir, par l’approche genre, une société où les hommes et les femmes entretiennent des rapports où s’équilibrent leurs droits et leurs devoirs dans un esprit d’équité et de représentativité. Le Conafed est représenté dans toutes les provinces de la République Démocratique du Congo par les Réseaux Provinciaux Femmes et Développement (REFED).

NGO Samwaki - Democratic Republic of Congo

Initiative partner

Samwaki (the voice of rural women) is an NGO working to improve the livelihoods of rural populations in South Kivu through access to information and communication. The province of South Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been ravaged by war. And whereas Samwaki is thriving today, as evidenced by its secondplace ranking in the AfriComNet 2010 Awards for its communication campaign on HIV and AIDS that success is largely due to the determination and leadership of its coordinator.

Haut Commissariat Initiative 3 N (Niger) - Niger

Initiative partner

Ministry of Agriculture (DR Congo) - Democratic Republic of Congo

Initiative partner

The United Nations Population Fund (Niger) - Niger

Initiative partner

UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is the lead UN agency for delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, and every young person's potential is fulfilled.

The United Nations Children's Fund (Niger) - United States

Initiative partner

UNICEF is a United Nations Program headquartered in New York City that provides long-term humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in developing countries. It is one of the members of the United Nations Development Group and its Executive Committee

The Belgian Development Cooperation - Belgium

Initiative partner

The Belgian Development Cooperation is Dimitra's main donor

International Fund for Agricultural Development IFAD_ - Italy

Initiative partner

We meet, we decide, we act

The Dimitra community listeners’ clubs approach is the main innovation developed by the FAO Dimitra project. This gender-sensitive participatory communication approach is very simple: CLCs are groups of women, men, girls and boys - mixed or not- who voluntarily decide to get organised and mobilised to discuss their own development priorities, make informed choices to address their problems, network and take collective action to bring about changes in their communities. Community radio stations collaborate with the clubs by sharing information requested by the clubs’ members and by broadcasting the debates on air. This mechanism provides rural communities with an opportunity to break the barriers of rural isolation, exchange experiences, having their voices heard, gain self-confidence, actively participate in decision-making and look for ways to act together and solve common problems. People are socially and economically empowered thanks to this approach

Community empowerment and gender Thanks to the dynamics of the Dimitra clubs, women and men are more aware of and challenge gender inequalities in their daily lives. Women participate more actively in the life of their community, speak up, gain self-esteem, social status and take on leadership roles. The Dimitra clubs stimulate a process whereby rural communities, particularly women, get organized into formal producer groups that induce income-generating activities
Not a stand-alone approach The approach should not be seen as a stand-alone activity. It is part of a larger process based on multi-level partnerships, synergies with other participatory approaches (e.g. FAO-Farmer Field Schools), information exchange, knowledge generation, dissemination of good practices through publications, advocacy initiatives and south-south cooperation. The approach is very easy to scale up within national development programmes and can be replicated and adapted to different contexts
Women and men together to change their world The approach pays special attention to the inclusion of rural groups who are marginalized or whose potential is undervalued, such as women and young people. All members, regardless of their sex or social standing, have the opportunity to make their voices heard and act collectively

The Dimitra Clubs are present in various countries of Sub-Saharan Africa (Niger, DRC, Senegal, Mauritania, Burundi and Ghana). Being marginalized and geographically dispersed, rural women and men can hardly seize socio-economic opportunities or influence policies that could affect them. Rural women face additional challenges, such as unequal access to resources, information, services, education and technology as well as to decision-making processes. Such inequalities are frequently rooted in gender-specific constraints that significantly hinder development goals in rural areas. Through better access to information and participatory communication, the most disadvantaged groups, particularly women and indigenous people, can voice their needs and concerns, actively participate in decision-making, improve their livelihoods and take ownership of their own development.

Access to information Radio is not just a hobby: “Before, I did noth¬ing but listen to music on the radio. Now, I am interested in programmes that talk about development issues,” commented a member of a youth listeners’ club in the Eastern Basin (DRC) dur¬ing a plenary session. “Not to mention the fact that it offers a chance to listen to programmes as a family and that the information benefits the whole community. Everyone follows the broadcasts”, he added.
Women’s economic empowerment In Gasseda (Niger), thanks to their improved capacities to mobilize and articulate their needs, a group of women, members of a CLC, was selected by UNDP to manage a multifunctional platform. “Before the machine arrived, our hands had callouses. Now they are smooth. Before, we never had time to do anything else. Now, we practise horticulture. Before, we used to spend all our time preparing meals,” says Sofi Sidikou, a woman who manages the platform.
Voices from the voiceless From minute 1:27 a woman describes the difficult situation of rural women: “Here people say: you are just a woman, a woman has nothing to say, she is considered like a child.” Another woman continues: “When you have just given birth, your husband congratulates you, but only two weeks later he tells you “Kiekapeleke”, which means “carry the baby”. You will have to carry your baby wrapped up in a shoulder strap. That little baby of yours, you will have to carry him out in the fields.”

The results recorded so far reflect changes in the perceptions, behaviours and actions of rural communities. Behavioural and social changes have been observed not only in agricultural matters but also in gender relations, health, nutrition and sanitation practices. The participation of rural women and men in the economic, political and social life of their community has greatly improved. Women are able to speak in public with self-confidence and take on leadership roles. Club members are able to improve their knowledge on issues that are of interest for them through improved access to information, discussions and networking. The clubs have strengthened the organizational capacities of their members. A woman from a Dimitra Club in Gasseda (Niger) says that “thanks to the listeners’ clubs we were able to organize ourselves. We succeeded in obtaining a multifunctional platform. Now we can have our cereals grinded. This greatly alleviates our workload and we have more time for ourselves.” 

../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Brief Partnering for results, Dimitra community Listeners’ clubs empower Thanks to improved access to information and a powerful participatory communication approach, villagers in isolated communities across the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Niger are making strides to improve gender equality and empower women. FAO Dimitra community listeners’ clubs are helping rural populations participate in the development of both their communities and themselves. The clubs enable members – women, men and youth – to share concerns and take collective action http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/i2940e/i2940e14.pdf
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Dimitra community listeners’ clubs: A unique approach What is it that makes the Dimitra community listeners’ clubs so special? This fact sheet answers that question by highlighting the eight key features that are crucial to the functioning of the Dimitra listeners’ clubs, and which make the approach unique. Available in English and French. English http://www.fao.org/dimitra/dimitra-publications/publications French http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/templates/dimitra/pdf/clubs_d_ecoute_2011_fr_light.pdf
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Fiche de bonne pratique – Les clubs d’écoute communautaires Dimitra au Nig Cette fiche a pour objectif de a) promouvoir l’utilisation de la bonne pratique des clubs d’écoute Dimitra ; b) stimuler la mobilisation et la participation des communautés rurales par la communication sociale et l’accès à l’information, pour qu’elles sortent de leur isolement et trouvent ensemble des moyens d’action; c) faciliter la communication, l’action et la gouvernance communautaire en milieu rural pour permettre l’autonomisation économique et sociale sensible au genre des populations http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/aq225f/aq225f.pdf

The FAO Dimitra approach is mainly directed towards rural women and men, girls and boys in remote rural communities of Sub-Saharan Africa. Other beneficiaries are formal and informal groups at community level, as well as community facilitators, rural community radios, extension officers, local authorities, NGOs, etc. Dimitra contributes to people’s empowerment by responding to the following needs: access to information, active participation, inclusion, networking, dialogue, organizational capacities, women’s leadership and community governance. “Participatory communication has shown us how to share information with others and, above all, how to spread our knowledge and experiences so as to achieve a better control of our environment” Thérèse Ramazani, facilitator of the Etumba na nzala listeners’ club (DRC).  

Land for women! After discussions within the clubs, for the first time in the village, women managed to gain access to land thanks to a 99-year lease contract to plant vegetables for self-consumption and marketing. “Today our joy is immense, we are on the road towards empowerment” says Mme Nouhou Zouera, President of the women’s producer group, while displaying with pride the lease contract. The government expressed interest in up-scaling the initiative. See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYS_wDvB4_4
Working with traditional leaders for food and nutrition security Joseph Ngwangwa Onobaiso, traditional Chief of the Chiefdom of Kombe (DRC), recalls the positive effects that the Dimitra CLCs have had on the people “After two or three months, the Dimitra CLCs sprang into action. In Yabotianongo, the listeners’ club organized joint activities with the Yambete CLC on sanitation issues and to support the Amijeya youth organization for terracing work in Yankeleli.”
Dimitra Community Listeners' Clubs for Food Security and Women's leadership Thanks to Dimitra clubs, women, men and youth organize themselves, look for solutions to common problems and take collective action. In this empowering process the community radio stations are used to relay information and facilitate exchange and networking. “Today, we meet and exchange. In this way, we know better how to satisfy our needs and we feel stronger. The approach has even reinforced the women’s organization of Gasseda,” says a woman from the local club
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf DR Congo- Dimitra Clubs and poverty reduction, a Forum to share results Newsletter 24, art p.3-7 The first Dimitra Community Listeners’ Clubs Forum for Tshopo District was held on 9-10 August 2013 in Isangi, in the Orientale Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It offered a unique opportunity to meet, discuss and share experiences to the women and men representatives of 60 Dimitra community listeners’ clubs (CLCs), seven community radios and various key actors, closely or loosely linked to the CLCs http://www.fao.org/docrep/019/i3626e/i3626e.pdf
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf South-South Cooperation: DR Congo-Burundi Newsletter 25, art. 7. Sharing knowledge, experiences and good practices is a central pillar of the Dimitra approach, whether it involves exchanges within or between listeners’ clubs, or with communities and other development partners. Last May Adeline Nsimire, a CLC expert, travelled from Sud-Kivu (DR Congo) to enrich the skills and knowledge of the Burundi listeners’ clubs http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/templates/dimitra/pdf/dim_25_e.pdf
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf South-South Cooperation: Niger- Senegal,Mauritania Dimitra Newsletter 25, art. p.4-5. In order to help Dimitra clubs launched recently in Mauritania and Senegal to benefit from the experience of Niger, a series of local training sessions was held in the Senegal River region, as part of the Integrated Production and Pest Management (IPPM) Programme. Cooperation with Niger will ensure the successful completion of these activities http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/templates/dimitra/pdf/dim_25_e.pdf

The Dimitra initiative is facilitated at field level in different ways according to the context and requests from the clubs. Close support is provided by a local partner organization (NGO, literacy network, training centres, etc.) through community facilitators who are prepared to play that role. They know the context very well, speak local languages and trained in rural social mobilization, participatory communication and gender. In addition, other experts participate in the radio programmes (nutritionists, gender specialists, experts in agriculture and pest management, etc.). Follow-up of the community facilitators and Dimitra clubs is usually provided by the initiative at national level. Finally, backstopping is ensured at the international level by the FAO Dimitra team that collects data, experiences, lessons learnt, and results, useful to improve the approach and up-scale. 

A dynamic rural woman “In August 2012, FAO’s Dimitra project came to Yanonge, to carry out a baseline study. Three weeks later I received an invitation to take part in the initial training workshop organized in Kisangani on the Dimitra approach. It was only then that I began to have a clear understanding of what the gender approach really means and I made the decision to sup¬port the project for raising awareness and set¬ting up listeners’ clubs in our area.” Says Marguerite Atilomoi, a moderator of a Dimitra CLC
A man working on gender Since 1998, Ali Abdoulaye has been the focal point for FAO-Dimitra in the Sahel. Ali explains the impact of the CLCs in Niger: “Women never had a voice. They sat behind the men and even when they were asked a direct question, they turned to the men who for their opinion. These days, these same women have become aware of the knowledge they hold. Women’s discussions show the strong capacities to analyse problems.”
Dimitra: A flexible approach Eliane Najros, Dimitra Project Coordinator, Ibrahim Hama, FAO Consultant Senegal and Ali Abdoulaye, Coordinator of the NGO VIE Kande ni Bayra, explain the importance of the synergies between FAO Farmer Field Schools (FFS) and FAO Dimitra community listeners’ clubs (CLCs) for food security and poverty reduction. South-South cooperation among the clubs in Senegal, and Niger in collaborations with FFS is coming strong.

The FAO Dimitra approach is based on the premise that development can be achieved only if rural actors are the main drivers of social change. Concretely, this means that it does not provide financial and material support (except for a small solar-powered radio set), but develops rural women and men’s capacities to actively participate in their own development. Communities and local stakeholders do not understand automatically this new approach. Therefore, awareness-raising sessions on the approach and its advantages need to be organized from the inception phase to obtain people’s interest and involvement. Another obstacle is the fact that community radio stations face lots of difficulties (lack of technical and human resources), which makes it difficult for them to engage in the approach. That is why the initiative provides them with technical training (journalism, gender and communication, etc.) as well as small equipment to record and broadcast the clubs’ debates. 

Clubs paired with cell-phones In Ghana and Niger, Dimitra has provided the community listeners’ clubs with mobile phones connected through a fleet arrangement to ensure free communication among the clubs of different villages and with the community radios. A woman from Gasseda (Niger) says: “A lot has changed for us thanks to the listeners’ clubs. Discussions are broadcasted on the radio. Now we are also able to call people in Diantchandou, Kiota, Bankadèye and even in Téra to exchange information and ideas.”
Radio by communities, for communities! Joseph Bassay, from the Radio Station-Isangi (RTBI), stresses the role of the Dimitra Clubs in bringing communities and radio stations closer together. “For us journalists, the clubs have revolu¬tionized our work. Now, when we go into the communities, people know who we are and we feel like members of that commu¬nity. And the communities participate in the radio broadcasts. The programmes have been reworked to take the community’s sugges¬tions on board. It’s radio by communities, for communities!”. Talking about the pro¬grammes, he continues: “They are more interesting when women are involved. They are richer and more participatory; there are lots of good ideas: people listen and like hear¬ing themselves on the radio.”
Sharing experiences South-South cooperation Through South-South cooperation community facilitators of the Dimitra clubs have the possibility to learn from and share with facilitators from other neighbouring countries. This was the case in Burundi, where the listeners’ clubs benefited from the experience of the ones in DR Congo.

Through the Dimitra Clubs, rural women and men have better access to information and gain a better understanding on issues such as sanitation, impact of pesticides, environmentally-sustainable agricultural practices, etc. However, it is the whole dynamics of the Dimitra clubs that improves people’s resilience and capacity to better deal with issues related to their own environment and climate change. Discussions on such topics regularly take place and since the clubs are action-oriented, concrete measures are taken by the communities to reduce environmental impact. For example, in partnership with other FAO projects, the Dimitra approach is used in Niger to strengthen populations’ capacity to manage disaster risks and climate change consequences. In most communities, cleaning days for the villages and improved sanitation measures are organised by the communities themselves. 

"La Santé est avec nous", Ms. Fati Madou, a leader from a women’s club called “Banika” (“Health is with us”) rejoices when she explains that after listening to a radio programme on sanitation and health issues, the clubs decided to introduce a regular cleaning day in the village. The CLCs gave the opportunity to the villagers to discuss and to take collective action. The initiative was recognized as a good practice and two clubs’ members were interviewed and broadcasted by the community radio
Better use of fertilisers Jocelyne, president of the Rhuhinduke listeners’ club in Mugogo (DRC), claims that discussions and radio programmes can lead to very concrete progress: “We talked about cultivating climbing beans and using organic fertiliser from the compost we made ourselves. We now plant the beans in rows, a few centimetres apart and the yields are much higher”.
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Community listeners’ clubs: stepping stones for action in rural areas This publication summarises the unique experience of the community listeners’ clubs set up in Niger and the Democratic Republic of Congo by FAO-Dimitra and its partners. These actionbased information and communication processes have proved so successful that Dimitra decided to share the experience All Dimitra publications are available in French and English http://www.fao.org/docrep/014/am604e/am604e.pdf
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Dimitra Clubs in Ghana and away they go! Dimitra Newsletter 25 p. 10 Promising results in the West Gonja District in the Northern Region of Ghana where 36 Dimitra community listeners’ clubs (CLCs) have been launched since September 2013 in 18 communities, with remarkable advances in a short time span. This confirms that the dynamic approach of the Dimitra listeners’ clubs meets the needs of the communities and that it works everywhere http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/templates/dimitra/pdf/dim_25_e.pdf
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Impact of the Dimitra Clubs Dimitra Newsletter 22, Art. p.5. A participatory evaluation process analyzed the results of the Dimitra clubs in Niger. As a result of the dynamics, improved hygiene practices have been observed – for example, the local butcher has set up a more hygienic abattoir and some villages have introduced a health day, once a week. In some places, waste from the village is used as fertilizer in the fields, linking respect for the environment with agriculture http://www.fao.org/docrep/016/ap542e/ap542e.pdf

This initiative has yielded remarkable results that are lasting even after FAO’s support has stopped: the Dimitra Clubs keep meeting, discussing and acting and have made the approach theirs (ownership) because the clubs facilitate a real community dynamics that mobilizes energies within the clubs and in the communities. Everywhere, the process has resulted in behavior changes, collective action, social cohesion, women’s leadership, better food security, networking and more generally better livelihoods. The activities are based on multi-level partnerships, synergies with other participatory approaches, initiatives, knowledge forums, exchange visits as well as large dissemination of publications and bi-annual newsletters. As a result, people feel less isolated and can make choices and improve their livelihoods. This greatly promotes sustainability. An external Gender Evaluation recognized the approach as a good practice for “moving beyond women’s economic empowerment”

An approach recognized by the Niger Government Allahoury Amadou, Representative of the Ministry of Agriculture in Niger, expresses government’s satisfaction over the results of the Dimitra programme in the country, in particular in relation to poverty eradication, food security, community participation and women’s empowerment. Thanks to the results achieved, the government has expressed interest in up-scaling the initiative in other regions of the country
../file-system/small/docx ../file-system/small/docx LIST RELEVANT MATERIAL As a flexible and an empowerment tool, the Dimitra approach has been recognized and integrated as a good practice in various areas of work in the field of rural development. The following list is not exhaustive, yet useful to understand the great interest that the Dimitra approach has generated among development practitioners and other actors.
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf List relevant material As a flexible and an empowerment tool, the Dimitra approach has been recognized and integrated as a good practice in various areas of work in the field of rural development. The following list is not exhaustive, yet useful to understand the great interest that the Dimitra approach has generated among development practitioners and other actors.

Disseminating information and sharing knowledge on the results are an integral part of the FAO Dimitra approach. This is achieved through a website and a bi-annual Dimitra newsletter which always includes articles on the clubs in the different countries. The newsletter is distributed electronically to some 10 000 email addresses (NGOs, public institutions, international organisations and individuals) throughout the world. But more importantly, hard copies get to the Dimitra clubs in the remote villages so that people can read about themselves and similar experiences. The results and effects are also disseminated through videos (see You tube FAO/Dimitra) and events (conferences, share fairs, etc.) and special forums for the listeners’ clubs organised by Dimitra. These forums achieve great results since they provide a unique opportunity for the clubs’ members to meet other clubs, discuss, exchange and network, something that they have never been able to do before the clubs. 

../file-system/small/docx ../file-system/small/docx Dimitra knowledge sharing In this document you will find all material related to the Dimitra Initiative (website, links, brochures, briefs, reports, workshop reports, newsletters, publications, videos, guidance notes). Each material is accompanied by a short description and the links in the available languages.
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Dimitra knowledge sharing In this document you will find all material related to the Dimitra Initiative (website, links, brochures, briefs, reports, workshop reports, newsletters, publications, videos, guidance notes). Each material is accompanied by a short description and the links in the available languages.