JOUSSOUR

In Algeria, the Joussour gateways

07/04/2017

Since 2007, the Joussour program has been bringing together over 130 Algerian and French members, associations, local authorities and institutions to work on concrete projects in the fields of childhood and youth. This concerted approach has proved its relevance on both sides of the Mediterranean.

 

Joussour, an investment in people

A multi-stakeholder concerted program… MSCP. Behind this apparently strange concept and its acronym lies one of the most ambitious cooperation projects. It is a project which aims at nothing less than strengthening civil society action to help the most vulnerable. It is also a project which aims to enhance the dialogue and exchanges between the citizens of two countries linked by history.

“In the mid 2000s, Algeria’s network of associations was unstructured and not sufficiently connected”, explains Agnès Belaïd from the French Committee for International Solidarity (CFSI), a development NGO based in France, “It was weakened, like the entire country, by the dark decade of the 1990s”. Yet Algerian associations are convinced that they have an essential role to play, especially with children and young people, in a country where almost two in three inhabitants are under thirty. In addition, with French associations, they find a shared desire to take action together and create synergies.

CFSI and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, from which AFD took over in 2009, offer Algerian associations an MSCP – a simultaneous capacity building program for associations. The idea is to initiate a concerted approach by bringing together civil society organizations (CSOs) and public authorities and mobilizing local authorities from both countries. Joussour, the “gateway” in Arabic, has come into being.
 

There is a commitment to pool resources and share experiences from concrete projects. “An MSCP is an investment in people”, explains Martin Pericard, project manager at AFD’s NGO Partnerships Division, “The important thing is the dynamics… The program certainly has an intangible side, but it obeys a clear rule: form a community between the two shores of the Mediterranean, with the aim of both fostering the emergence of actors and promoting intercultural dialogue and citizenship. This is right in line with the Sustainable Development Goals !”.

 

 

Professionalization

Just under ten years later, Joussour has developed into an essential coordination structure for Algerian civil society. “A key and leading actor”, according to Abderrahmane Arar, head of the Algerian Children’s Rights Network (NADA). “A crosscutting structure”, adds Agnès Belaïd, “which makes young people actors in their own projects and no longer beneficiaries of mechanisms”.

A total of over 150 projects have been supported nationwide via the fund to support or assist the program. The sectors of operation always target youth and children and are very diverse: development of youth advisory councils, management of autism, schooling assistance, discovery and preservation of the cultural heritage through hikes or rehabilitation projects, training in livestock raising and beekeeping techniques for young people who are excluded from the school system… From Oran to Bejaia, and including Constantine or El Oued, over 80 Algerian CSOs have developed their capacities and fields of operation. 

“Joussour is a core investment for us all!”, points out Abderrahmane Arar, “Associations have become professional at all levels: they are now capable of providing strong responses… There is a huge difference compared with the initial situation.” “CSOs are firmly established at all levels”, adds Martin Pericard, “at the same time, as correspondents for the definition and application of public policies, as promoters of citizenship, and as entrepreneurs for services of general interest for the benefit of populations.”

 

Common values and identity

Joussour now has 133 members: in Algeria, associations, people’s assemblies of Wilaya (equivalent to Departmental Councils in France)  and in France, associations and local authorities, including the towns of Bordeaux, Aubervilliers and Nanterre. 

Certain programs are conducted through a direct partnership between Algerian and French actors, such as with the cooperation between Oran and Bordeaux via two associations, Santé Sidi El Houari and the Association des Centres d’Animation des Quartiers de Bordeaux and the Universities of Oran and Bordeaux Michel de Montaigne (see map). “Algerian and French actors think about how to move forward together in both reflection and action on care for children and young people”, explains Abderrahmane Arar, “It is a real Algerian-French network which is at work”. “The associations have learnt to dialogue and build together”, adds Agnès Belaïd, “Local and international partnerships have been formed and a real dialogue has been initiated with public authorities.”

Joussour has adopted an original governance in order to promote exchanges and the participation of actors of the program. Its 133 members constitute a plenary assembly which recognizes common values set out in a charter, such as consultation or equal opportunities. They meet once a year. An Algerian-French steering committee elected by its peers ensures implementation. 
 

The day-to-day development of activities is handled by an Algerian team under contract with the Algerian Children’s Rights Network (NADA) and supported by the CFSI team based in France, which ensures overall responsibility for Joussour. Its budget stands at approximately EUR 1m a year, 75% of which is financed by AFD with a grant. The other donors include the RATP Foundation and the Delegation of the European Union to Algeria. The projects of Algerian members are also supported by decentralized State services, local authorities and companies.

 


 

 

Securing the future

In 2016, Joussour entered into its last phase. 80 Algerian associations are going to develop initiatives for 30,000 direct beneficiaries: children and young people, people with disabilities and victims of social exclusion. But the challenge of this third phase of the program lies in stepping up the dialogue between civil society and public authorities via territorial consultative bodies. “There is a dialogue at local level and the dialogue with public authorities is already extremely promising”, points out Agnès Belaïd, “Local authorities are already involved in Joussour and have taken over certain initiatives. It shows that they are relevant and ensures they are sustainable.”

“How to move from a local success to a regional success?”, asks Martin Pericard, “The aim of Joussour is now to work on scaling up, in harmony with public policies. This program is a laboratory for Algerian and French civil societies. Many things have already been accomplished… The aim now is to extend towards other actors and territories.”
 

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