Who is a winner?
There is one thing: All the questions, whatever their size, that we are trying to address, in everyday life around us in the village of Nakamtenga, to create a good society for all those who live in it. Then there is the other thing which is the fact that everything that happens in the outside world affects us, and affects the goals we're trying to achieve. The year that passed, 2019 and the first half of 2020 has, to say the least, challenged us in this. But we have a dream! A strong dream and a conviction for a better world! And we hold on to that dream!
In 2019, the attacks of the Jihadists in Northern Burkina Faso increased, creating great concern throughout the country and enormous tragedies for all those affected by their violence and terrorist acts. The traveling restrictions from the Foreign Affairs became more and more restrictive. For Yennenga Progress, this mainly resulted in the suspension of many of the training courses we planned with visiting experts.
Then came 2020 and Covid-19. Soon the whole world was shut down and so was Burkina Faso. Our village that, before the Jihadists and Covid, managed to come up with a self-financing of their welfare of over 30%, found themselves without visits, without customers and thus without revenue.
But what we also found out was the fact that the world began to raise the issue of sustainable societies at "our level"! In Sweden, more and more news programs began to wonder how high the degree of self-sufficiency of food we have in Sweden. The answer was around 50%. What about access to clean water? The energy issue? Would medical care hold? How should we organize when we need to stay at home?
The entire Yennenga Progress existence is based on globalization and making use of the solutions and ideas that exist to best meet the future. But our existence is also based on building local sustainable communities. In order for each individual to be able to use their potential and contribute to a positive social development, we all need to cover our human basic needs, and know that we have a safety net in case something goes wrong.
This means that every society must be able to secure access to clean water, which is not dependent on a state system – because it can fail. Also, because large systems do make it difficult to keep the water naturally clean and require addition of chemicals for purification.
We need to encourage enough diversity in food production locally, to be able to always enjoy locally produced – in combination of interesting imported goods when possible – but also so that we can survive during lock-downs or natural disasters.
A local, inclusive democracy is the basis for organizing the common assets for the good of the population, both in "ups and downs" – where the population feel they are an important part of the system and know that they can influence the decisions that have been made. This also makes it easier to avoid and resolve conflicts that arise when people are under pressure.
Our welfare system also focuses on all parts of the educational system and access to information. It has to function whether there is crisis in the world or not. Not least for the children to be able to maintain their everyday life with access to education, but also because reliable sources of information reduce harmful rumors spreading and extremism.
We do not even need to mention the importance of a good local structure for health and medical care. These everyday heroes, whether there are pandemics or not, have finally been recognized this spring.
Infrastructure in general, but possibly with an extra focus on sanitation and waste is another issue, not least in how we can prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
All these, are issues that we work with on a daily basis, and are a part of what we step by step built up, we have come to call The Good Village. During 2020 and Covid-19, the relevance of our work is no longer limited to a small village in Africa at level 1 (read about Hans Rosling's 4 development levels). Now is the time for communities at all levels to see if we are truly sustainable, and what we can do better.
We have a dream! And it is that more villages, communities and districts will thrive through what we have achieved in Nakamtenga. I want to pay tribute to the people of Nakamtenga, and especially our dedicated team at the Yennenga Center in the village, for the work done tirelessly every day, both in peace and freedom or with jihadists and Corona.
Corona opens the door for discussions about sustainability: Small communities, decentralized, organized as welfare societies in micro-format that cater to their population with education, health and infrastructure – in close cooperation with their outside world whenever possible – is what the UN Global Goals are all about.
Our dream is alive and we are infinitely grateful to all the people, companies and organizations around the world who share this dream with us!
A winner is a dreamer who never gives up – Nelson Mandela
Secretary General, Yennenga Progress