Earth Rights Ecovillage Institute (EREV)
Yoff Layene: corner Autoroute de l'Aeroport
and Route des Cimetières Musulmans
Dakar - Yoff
EREV (EarthRights EcoVillage Institute), Senegal, is an NGO based in the old fishing village of the Yoff commune of Dakar. With its partner, the Senegal Ecovillage Microfinance Fund (SEM-Fund), EREV works in the service of ecovillages, in affiliation with ANEV, Senegal's National Ecovillage Agency, the first national government program with a goal of developing its country’s 14,000 villages into models of ecologically, socially, economically and culturally sustainable living.
SEM-Fund (www.sem-fund.org) is a microfinance NGO incorporated in Senegal and in the US (www.sem-fund.org). SEM-Fund provides developmental microcredit with training to ecovillages, linked to environmental technologies. Both SEM-Fund and EREV welcome researchers and interns.
EREV (www.erevi.org) is an Africa office of Earth Rights Institute (ERI, www.earthrights.net) in Los Angeles. It was founded as "EcoYoff" in 1996, during the Third International Ecocities Conference held in Daker, with the conference declaration, to "incorporate African village wisdom in global ecological reconstruction," as its mission. Since then, under previous names, CRESP and the EcoYoff Living & Learning Center, and as a continuing member of the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN), EREV has offered the following programs:
1. Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), inspired by and partially accredited by Gaia Education (www.gaiaeducation.edu) The elements of this education take the form of discrete independent courses or training programs, at different levels. However, village training also is combined with university-community service learning programs, in which international and Senegalese students participate in exchanging knowledge with villagers and assist as trainers and action research facilitators. a. Semesters, January and summer terms with partner universities, combining sustainability theory and practice courses in ecovillages, engaging with villagers in university-community service learning. These courses include the following other activities, which EREV also presents as separate programs: b. Results-based training in environmental practices, techniques and technologies, bringing ecovillage representatives together to complete a project (e.g., a Permaculture garden) in a host village, and offering prizes for best replications of the technology in the representatives' home villages. c. Gaia Education accredited Ecovillage Design Education (EDE) for educated and preliterate learners and d. ESD adult literacy modules, still a work in progress with the adult literacy section of the Ministry of Education
2. Management assistance to sustainable development projects. These include: a. A 13-year-old, large scale local government and ecovillage ICT training and website design program, www.sipsenegal.org, further described below b. Ecovillage projects in ecological technologies, such as solar ovens, reforestation, recycling etc. focused on participatory change in social norms based on accurate ecological knowledge, and locally adapted good practices.
2.a. Description of the S.I.Peey ICT Program
The Local Government Information System (Système d’Information des “Peey” – Wolof word for local government) is a 13 year-old program, which currently reaches 54, or 10%, of Senegal’s 524 local government units (LGU). Its overall goal is to establish reliable long term Information and Communication support systems for Senegal’s local governments and their populations, while reducing unemployment and increasing funds for local development through partnerships formed over the Internet.
The program supports local governments and their young people to create ICT training centers generating jobs for many of their graduates, and municipal websites (visible at www.sipsenegal.org ). The S.I.Peey reaches out to Senegal’s poorest urban communes and to rural areas, including Ecovillages. It targets rural towns and villages newly connected to electricity and telephone networks.
The training centers provide large-scale cascade training of both trainers and learners in computer literacy (Windows, Word, Excel and Internet). Up to eight cascade training sessions per day using more than 20 computers train cohorts of up to 200 at a time. And about 15% emerge as trainers ready to take over the next training sessions.
Student tuitions and local government scholarships purchase the computers, permitting recent graduates who train in follow-on courses to be paid by the tuition of new students. These features permit this program to expand productively over extended periods without outside funding. For example, during the unfunded year between January and December 2010, five LGUs trained over 600 new students. The training centers (somes doubling as cybercentres) are able to hire a small number of their own graduates. However, as found in a recent informal survey, close to half of the other graduates also find new jobs or improve their existing jobs.
The website creation program, held in Dakar or other centralized locations, engages LGU staff and underemployed youth in spending three months at a time learning web design, computer maintenance, open source software, electronics etc. while constructing and updating their own local government websites. This training also prepares students without university or high school diplomas to pass the government’s open enrollment exams for diplomas as computer and electronics technicians. The web sites seek to include data bases for governance and information for local citizens. They also look to showcase development projects and needs, tourist attractions, economic opportunities and the local creative talent.
New recruiting interns, this project expects to work both in LGUs and in Ecovillages between 2011-2015. Its partners have included the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), the Fondation du Devenir (FDD), the Agence Internationale de la Francophonie (AIF), Netcorps Canada, University of Lille Système d’Information et Aide à la Décision (SIAD), the Canadian International Development Research Centre (IDRC) Dakar, the Soros Foundation’s Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), the Association of Mayors of Senegal (AMS), the National Association of Rural Councils (ANCR), and most recently, Senegal’s National Eco-village Agency (ANEV).