02 / 1993
USE (Union for Solidarity and Mutual Aid)is a Senegalese NGO which supports development. In rural areas it is trying to promote the emergence of a grassroots development based on making the peasants more responsible. In urban areas it is trying to give young people from modest social backgrounds a solid education so that they can then become development agents themselves.
Some time ago the USE set up a legal assistance programme in Northern Senegal in the region of the river valley where many problems are created or even worsened by the huge dam.
Realising that the population has no idea about the content of the law, the USE decided to attempt a legal service experiment over a period of 15 years on the theme of "rights and duties originating in the so called modern law and in customs".
The start of the project was delayed because of the difficulty of finding the right person to direct it. USE had called in a lawyer, probably a very efficient professional but a bad teacher. He was replaced by another lawyer who had some experience of groundwork.
The principle fields of work are:
a)the identification and collecting all administrative, legal and official rules and customs.
b)the organisation of information meetings with groups of young people, women, village dwellers, with the chiefs and rural counsellors.
The job of translation into the local language was also carried out at the same time. Now the work of information and training is taken on by local people. This action has benefitted from the experiences of paralegals trained during the 1980’s by RADI (Réseau Africain pour le Développement Intégré = African Network for Integrated Development, Senegal), and observers on literacy.
A SHORT APPRAISAL: This programme has had and is still having problems with the administration, as Prefects and Sub-Prefects, worried about the consequences of such action, imposed a total blockage. The agreement of and the intervention of the Minister of the Interior in person was needed. This took the form of a letter justifying the necessity of such action after which the situation improved a little.
In the absence of a global appraisal document written by USE, here are some remarks made by USE officials. The solely training of paralegals reduces the local interest in the project. Action must be undertaken within the framework of a programme supported by the population and their associations. This must be done to acquaint them with the law and to understand the extent to which it can help them, if at all.
Original card in French in Dph data base. The ’title/sub-title’ field corresponds to the ’translated title’ field in the French card.
Contact: USE=Union pour la Solidarité et l’Entraide, BP 5070 - Dakar - Sénégal - Tel: 246796 - Person to contact: BA, Thierno.
JURISTES SOLIDARITES, Rapport de Mission en Afrique, Juristes Solidarités, 1992 (France)