2010 A baby receives treatment as part of a children’s health group intiative
why Plan works in Togo
• 39 per cent of the population live on less than US$1 a day
• Giving children access to a decent education
• Only 40 per cent of the rural population has access to clean water
• Ensuring children, young people and their communities are aware of children’s rights and are actively promoting them
• 29 per cent of children aged 5–14 are engaged in child labour
• Helping families to protect their children’s health and wellbeing Niger
• Supporting communities in responding to disasters
‘Through soccer, the team has won the respect of their families and villages, changing their view of girls forever.’ er
i Ban NIGER
Members of the health insurance solidarity group in Tchaoudjo
Dapango Volt a
which provides employment for 65 per cent of the labour force. Cotton, coffee, and cocoa together generate about 40 per cent of export earnings. generally tropical with average Togo is self-sufficient in basic temperatures ranging from food goods when harvests 27°C on the coast to about COTE D'IVOIRE are normal, with occasional 30°C in the northernmost regional supply difficulties. In regions, with a dry climate the industrial sector, phosphate and characteristics of a tropical mining is no longer the most savanna. To the south there are important activity, as cement two seasons of rain, the first and clinker (cement) exports between April and July and to neighbouring countries the second between October have taken over. It has suffered and November. from the collapse of world Economy: Togo’s small subphosphate prices, increased Saharan economy is heavily foreign competition and LIBERIA dependent on both commercial financial problems. and subsistence agriculture,
Capital: Lomé Population: 6 million Languages: French (official) Climate: The climate is
A YEAR IN
Kara Sokodé Sotouboua Langabou
TOGO Country Office Program Units
child protection and participation Plan is working in a range of ways to protect children from harm and give them a voice in their communities. We promote birth registration, so children’s status is recognised in law. We help communities care for particularly vulnerable children, like orphans or those with disabilities. We work with communities on initiatives to
prevent child trafficking, like radio programs. We also ensure children understand and can promote their rights, through activities like clubs and media projects.
Soccer Raises the Status
A girl addresses her community as part of a project to boost girl’s confidence
At first, Donko and her friends were not at all sure when Plan suggested starting a girls’ soccer team in their village.
Plan is working with children, families and communities to find sustainable solutions to the challenges in Togo. We have only given you a small insight into Plan’s work in Togo with this report but over the past year we also:
of girls in Togo
‘We hesitated to enrol because here our religion forbids girls to wear shorts. However, to play soccer we need to wear shorts,’ she explains. ‘Also we have a lot of chores to do to help our mothers in the house.’ Parents were not keen, either. Girls have work to do. They do not play soccer. Donko lives in rural Togo. Here, as in many of the communities where Plan works, poverty and tradition weigh heavily on girls. Entrenched views of a girl’s role in society mean she has fewer opportunities than her brothers. A boy is an asset to the family. He will grow up to farm, or work in the local town and increase the household income. He will make the decisions for his family and may even become a leader in the community. Girls follow a different path. They help with the household chores, marry and have children of their own. They have little or no say in matters affecting their lives. Since a girl’s future is usually bound with her husband’s family rather than her own, many parents do not see the value of giving her an education. Girls are far less likely to go to school than boys, and if they do, they are usually the first to be pulled out if parents cannot afford to meet the cost of essentials like uniforms. Sadly, over a third of girls in poor, rural areas will marry as children, risking their health with early pregnancies. Others will be forced to submit to practices like female genital cutting. Some face trafficking and exploitation. Recognising talents Soccer may seem an unlikely rescue, but for girls like Donko it is opening up a whole new world. Plan has worked to help 12 communities across Togo set up 12 all-girl teams as part of a wider program to raise the status of girls within their families and villages. Our work is based on the premise that communities progress faster when the talents and potential of all members are recognised
Produced for Togo by Plan International Australia.
and valued. We aim to give girls opportunities they may not otherwise have, build their confidence and help them to play their role in community development. Once Plan and Donko’s friend Assana had persuaded her of the advantages of joining the team, she was keen to sign up. She has not looked back. ‘My performance during the first match was appreciated by the villagers and my parents were delighted,’ she says. ‘More and more our village is enjoying girls’ soccer.’ Growing confidence Playing soccer is teaching the girls useful skills. They are coached in topics like tactics, management and leadership. They have to pull together, follow instructions and solve problems to win matches. Being part of the team has given Donko a sense of solidarity and belonging: ‘This project is a good thing for the village,’ she says. ‘It allows us girls to be together and talk.’ Through soccer, the team has won the respect of their families and villages, changing their view of girls forever. ‘I had never thought that girls could do everything correctly as boys,’ says a local mother. ‘This project has opened our eyes.’ Some names have been changed for child protection and privacy reasons
‘We will meet the challenges that await us in the coming years to make the world a better place for children in our communities through innovative projects’ – Adama Coulibaly, Plan’s Country Director in Togo
The Bigger Picture
• Kept children safe from malaria by distributing 3486 mosquito nets • Built 33 classrooms to protect schoolchildren from bad weather and other hazards, like reptiles • Trained 96 children to make radio programs, discussing issues that matter to them and promoting their rights • Held a four-day workshop in managing and preparing for the risk of natural disasters Your support as a sponsor is crucial to achieving these results. With the resources provided by sponsors, Plan expertise and the collaboration of communities and local partners we are making a big difference to the lives of people in Togo. Thank you for your involvement!
To learn more about Plan’s work in Togo visit plan.org.au/ourwork/westafrica/togo
‘Here, as in many of the communities where Plan works, poverty and tradition weigh heavily on girls.’