Building Resilient Communities with Community Development Committees

Written By: Priscilla Sogah

Through Join My Village, a partnership between CARE, General Mills and Cargill, CARE-supported communities in cocoa-farming areas of Cote d’Ivoire are reaping the benefits of well governed communities thanks to the establishment of Community Development Committees (CDCOM). One of these, Mamiankro, is a small farming village on the outskirts of Ganoa, a city in south-central Cote d’Ivoire which lacks access to a basic necessity: potable water.

Cyrille N’guessan Kouadio is a community volunteer teacher with CARE, who walks each day with dozens of women and children towards their water source.

At age 82, Cyrille looks strong and healthy for a woman so advanced in age. And her secret to maintaining an active lifestyle, she told me, is eating nutritious meals and keeping fit by walking long distances to fetch water for chores.

But I noticed an unusual dark-looking sore on her left elbow and asked her about it. She explained that she has a skin disease caused by the contaminated local drinking water. Cyrille and the entire Mamiankro community depend on a brownish water source located in a bush about a 30 minute walk away from the community. The water, though unhealthy for drinking, has been their only water source for decades.

“We cook, drink and, in fact, do everything with this water” Cyrille said with a sad look on her face.

Children and adults have their skins permanently scarred as a result of drinking from this water source.

But the good news is, CARE is helping. With the establishment of a CDCOM in Mamiankro, Cyrille’s community has identified the construction of a borehole as a critical need to access potable water.

CARE CDCOMs have become key components of the community engagement process in which local residents are able to take ownership of community initiatives that meet their development challenges.

The committees are composed of 3 women, 3 youth, 3 community elders, a representative each from the cocoa cooperative and the school management committee. All these individuals are selected from CARE beneficiary communities.

CDCOMs are responsible for engaging community members in identifying developmental challenges through a participatory research appraisal processes and then developing a Community Action Plan (CAP) to respond to the problems. In the coming months, Mamiankro, as part of their community action planning process and with CARE’s support will be constructing a borehole to meet their water needs.

The Join My Village program in Cote d’Ivoire has established ten CDCOMs – one in each of the beneficiary communities - as part of its program support. Each of the communities have selected a developmental need that CARE will help address.

Cyrille and the entire Mamiankro community now awaits healthy skin, free from scars and clean, accessible water.