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Batonga is entering new communities

“2022 is an exciting year at Batonga.” Just ask anyone on our team. It is one of those years we will not forget because our team and programs are growing. We are destined to reach more adolescent girls and young women through expansion to new communities throughout Benin. Here’s a look at what we have already accomplished in the first three months of 2022 in collaboration with the Mastercard Foundation and there’s more to come.

Exploring New Communities For Our Programs 

Batonga will soon be expanding its programs to new communities in Bohicon, Savalou, and Atacora in northern Benin. This means that we will be supporting more adolescent girls and young women in rural areas of Benin to  gain personal and economic independence and develop their leadership skills. In the first quarter of 2022, we began preparing for this expansion and laying the foundation upon which to build by mapping these new communities.

The Adolescent Girls Leadership (AGL) and Women Economic Empowerment (WEE) program teams in Benin visited 26 villages in Bohicon and Savalou. Our team met with local community leaders to explain Batonga’s mission and our ambitions. The local leaders were briefed on our programs, how participants are involved, and how we engage communities for change. We shared information with them about upcoming activities we were planning, such as the Girl Roster survey process, and interviewing participants for the creation of new business circles for young women.  

Next, we set out to recruit community staff positions, which included mentors and business coaches. We successfully recruited for these positions and volunteers to help carry out our survey process of going door to door. This team conducted 280 interviews in a two week period. For more information on the new communities visited, read our Q1 2022 impact report

What is the Girl Roster survey process?

We use the Girl Roster app, a mobile data collection and survey application developed by the Population Council, to help us map our partner communities and understand the socio-demographic context of the girls and women who live there.  The goal is to ensure that we don’t leave out the girls who will benefit the most from our programs and this technology is an instrumental part of that.

During the last week of March our Batonga Benin team traveled to 26 new communities to ask questions to understand the realities of the adolescent girls in these villages. Going door to door with the Girl Roster app in hand allows us to establish a list of girls who can participate in our programs. For our programs [Adolescent Girls Leadership (AGL) and Women Economic Empowerment (WEE)] to remain impactful, and continue to those who are least likely to have access to resources and rights, a key step is understanding their realities with accurate data collected through the interviews with the help of the Girls Roster app.

The Approach

Here’s an example of how we conduct the survey. The Èkpa village, for example, is in the region of Savalou behind the mountains. Our team arrives very early in the morning to meet the village chief and discuss the survey activities planned during our visit, which allows us to form a level of trust with the community. We form teams of two, taking into account the local language, and the teams go to each household to ask questions and collect information about the girls. To learn more about how we use this information to guide and adapt our programs  read more here in our Quarterly Impact Report.

Sometimes you need a partner 

Welcome our new partner Havre de Paix in Northern Benin

Northern Benin is an area Batonga has not reached previously. Statistics in Benin show that the north of the country is an area where the majority of adolescent girls and young women are excluded from education, empowerment, sex education and access to health services. So in our effort to expand our programs in this area of the country, we decided to find an organization whose mission aligned with our own, as the best approach for a successful introduction. Batonga chose a partner organization based in this region, Havre de Paix, a local NGO. Havre de Paix is an association whose mission is to improve the well-being and living conditions of vulnerable and marginalized girls and women in Northern Benin. We welcome this collaboration and look forward to working together on this endeavor. Khadidjath Ketekoure, the president of Havre de Paix,  welcomed our partnership stating, “The condition of girls and women in the region of Atacora in the north of Benin is synonymous with early marriages, financial difficulties, domination and insecurity. We are happy to help Batonga transform the vulnerability of these girls and women into fulfillment.”

Learn more about our activities in our Q1 Impact Report 2022 here.

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