If area development programmes are the modus operandi of World Vision, Community Development Centres (CDCs) are the most trustworthy approach for community-based programs implemented in Mauritania. CDCs were born out of the initial idea of facilitating the monitoring of children in 1999 and have over the years become a real place for development and integration within communities. They have also become a tool that reinforces social cohesion between families and contributes to the integrated development of young children.
By partnering closely with local community groups, religious leaders, families, mothers and children themselves, root causes of poverty are directly addressed as well as their impact children, especially the most vulnerable. The centres focus on all child age groups according to the minimum standards of World Vision's sponsorship programming (0 to 5, 6 to 11 and 12 to 18 years old), are adapted and align themselves to the content of core model projects.
The relevance of this approach resonates in the integration of all sectors that promote the well-being of children: Education, Health/Nutrition, Protection/Advocacy, Water-Sanitation-Hygiene (WASH), and Resilience. Indeed, CDCs promote a holistic approach to child development in place of sector-wide approaches. They are a networking platform for all stakeholders (NGOs, Government, etc.) to network independently. Interventions as diverse as nutritional monitoring and health education, early childhood remedial classes for primary school students, children's club activities, protection, advocacy and livelihoods constitute the curriculum in the life and functioning of CDCs.
The CDC model largely responds to the needs of local communities and partners working in World Vision's programme areas. It has always contributed and achieved positive results such as:
- The adoption of the CDC approach by the government at the national level through the Ministry of Social Affairs for Children and Families (MASEF)
- The funding and creation of a CDC project centred on schooling by UNICEF in the refugee camp of MBerra
- The integration of the CDC into ECCE to better build community commitment around child well-being
- Successful advocacy with authorities and decision-makers for promoting and building CDCs
As for sustainability of the CDC approach, the model is an autonomous entity that is governed by objectives, principles and rules for its operation. It has monitoring, control and independent management mechanisms.
This community-wide structure contains a set of principles that address equity and empowerment, and practices that include consultation, capacity-building of management committee members, and socially-focused activities. This is done with the aim of enabling other community members or relevant structures to gain more control over influencing the life of communities and thereby improve their well-being and that of their loved ones. In terms of partnerships, CDCs are a community property to which all grassroots community organisations that share the same targets, objectives and area of intervention adhere. This well-coordinated set is increasingly and sensibly working to increase participation through advocacy to respect and fulfil children's rights, strengthen the local economy, and promote children's health and education.
In the context of Mauritania, CDCs remains for the moment an excellent approach that World Vision's 15 area development programmes have in terms of integration, empowerment of the most vulnerable families, induced change, and sustainability.
CDCs impact on children's learning - Hawa's experience
"My name is Hawa, I'm 14 years old and I'm in my first year of secondary school. During this past school year, I attended the school of Dioudé Diéri. Twice a week, we went to the new community development centre built by World Vision, which housed our reading camp. I was preparing for the college exam and I was enrolled with my classmates in these reading reinforcement classes. Never reprimanded, my classmates and I were comfortable there and always learned by playing with resources on our rights and duties. Personally, I had serious problems with reading fluency and comprehension. But thanks to this program and its atmosphere of friendliness and serenity around reading and learning, not only did my level in French improve a lot, but I also managed to master the teaching and consequently pass my exam to the college like all my classmates. "