Achieving Sustainability for Whom?
This case study describes the innovations in the structuring of 'UGPM' a peasants' union in Senegal that operates on a mutual assistance and solidarity system.
The paper describes the three phases of development of the union and states that UGPM:
- Realized it lacked financial resources;
- Decided to establish a self-managed financial system;
- Conducted discussions based on a study of existing mechanisms on how to implement such a system;
- Carried out a study visit to Benin to study the self financing initiatives of the 'Benin Center for the Development of Basic Initiatives';
- Set up an advisory committee to choose a system adapted to the social, cultural and economic situation of the UGPM area of intervention;
- Organized information meetings in different villages;
- Deployed a promotion strategy resulting in 72 basic credit unions in the area, with 4,373 members and 47 village banks that enjoy legal recognition.
The paper presents the basic village bank and studies the structuring mode, looking at:
- External constraints such as:
- Illiteracy in the area;
- Insufficiency of the financial resources;
- Existence of other decentralized institutions;
- Low income of the population.
- Advantages and disadvantages:
- Increase in member confidence to self-finance their activities;
- Stimulation of initiatives and diversification of activities;
- Strengthening of solidarity and mutual assistance.
The paper concludes that the only disadvantage was that the structure favored the individual over the community.