Bridging Social Division in Western Côte d’Ivoire Communities

OTI support to women's organizations

Toulepleu is a small city located just 30 miles from the border with Liberia. During the height of the post-electoral crisis, this small farming town was the launching point of several armed conflicts.  The conflict aggravated existing tensions between ethnic groups and eventually led to overt violence between community residents.

In April 2012, USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives’ Cote d’Ivoire Transition Initiative (OTI-CITI) provided a grant to support an activity to ease tensions in the community.  Women’s associations from Yacouba, Malinké, and indigenous Guéré and Wé ethnic groups came together to organize a massive public display of cooperation for the development of healthier communities in Toulepleu.

The women’s associations organized a day-long event, which drew over a thousand people, and began with a seminar on ways to inspire solidarity in their community around common interests. After the seminar, women gathered for an assortment of social activities, including women’s soccer matches, traditional dance performances, and a sampling of intercultural cuisines.  The event marked the largest public social event since politically motivated ethnic-violence caused local residents to be wary of public gatherings.

Fortunately, the ties forged during the CITI-sponsored event have endured. Yacouba and Guéré women continue to meet regularly and plan to develop a joint waste management program in their respective neighborhoods.