Beginning September 24, 2012, a USAID-Cote d’Ivoire team comprised of Program Officer Shawntel Hines, Democracy and Governance Specialist Benjamin Olagboye, , and Senior Rule of Law advisor (USAID/ West Africa) Julie Childs visited Bongouanou, Dimbokro Yamoussoukroin Cote d’Ivoire.
The primary objective of this trip was to observe how National Assembly deputies interacted with their constituents in their respective regions and better understand the challenges faced by deputies in fulfilling their representational mandate.
In consultation with the Office of the President of the National Assembly, USAID selected three deputies from the Eastern and North-Central regions of Cote D’Ivoire. Eugene Assoumou Mea, first-term Deputy from Bongouanou, is an electronic engineer. Assa Bobi Emilienne, second-term Deputy from Dimbokro, is a former Minister of Children, Women and Family and is the president of the National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs committee. Kouame Nguessan Edouard, first-term Deputy from Yamoussoukro is an agronomist engineer.
The USAID delegation visited two villages in each deputy’s constituency. The deputies worked with local leaders to convene village meetings aimed at providing a forum for the communities to express issues related to education, health, reconciliation and security. Representatives from women’s and youth groups also had an opportunity to express concerns specific to their demographics.
The USAID National Assembly Support Program (NASP) aims to assist the deputies in fulfilling the representational function of their positions, among other goals. This program has two objectives: 1) strengthen the National Assembly to be able to fulfill its basic oversight, legislative, and representative functions; and 2) improve National Assembly deputy representation and oversight in a selected number of communes.
This trip further highlighted the need to reduce the gap between members of the National Assembly and the communities they represent. To informing future programs, USAID plans to help increase the deputies’ capacity for outreach and communication with their constituencies.