Hélène N’garnim-Ganga: “If We Want To Speed up Democratic Transition, There’s No Time to Lose.”

published on 08 April 2019
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Paris Peace Forum, Hélène N’Garnim-Ganga, démocratic transitions
Since 2016, Agence Française de Développement (AFD) has been helping countries set up effective, responsible, and open institutions at all levels.
Here, Hélène N’Garnim-Ganga, Director of AFD’s Political and Citizenship Transition Department, explains why this new field of intervention is essential.
Why is AFD working in the field of governance, and how does it do so?

In 2016, the French Interministerial Committee for International Cooperation and Development (CICID) gave us the task of helping our partner countries develop governance, a theme that encompasses justice, human rights, migrations, State reform, financial governance, and democratic processes and the media among others.

In practice, we can give support to implementation of a new national public policy just as much as to a smaller-scale project at the local level. Indeed, while central governments are our main negotiating partner, we also work with a great number of stakeholders such as cities, economic operators, NGOs, civil society organizations, etc.

To give an example, we recently approved a project to support local populations affected by the forced displacements stemming from the crisis in the Lake Chad region (in northern Cameroon and northeast Nigeria). Its objective is to promote resilience among the local populations by implementing a number of aspects: the International Framework for Refugee Protection; stronger social links; and better access to rights (legal identities), work, and education. Special attention is paid to gender issues.

Democratic transition is a crucial issue. How does AFD provide support in the countries where it works?

We are working internally on our new intervention strategy on political and civic transition (see AFD Group’s strategy for the 2018-2022 period). But we’re already providing support on the ground, to many projects related to democratic transition.

In Madagascar, for example, we are providing support to the Ministry of Justice on a project to improve the judicial system. In particular, it involves making the judicial and penitentiary systems more professional and improving implementation of the protection of citizens’ rights.

We’re also working on strengthening local media, in line with Sustainable Development Objective No.16, which seeks to “ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements.” Independent, good-quality, and pluralistic information is essential in some regions.

In the Sahel, there’s a project that involves capacity building for journalists at local radio stations, with the purpose of encouraging diffusion of reliable information and participation by young women and men from the Sahel in the public debate on their countries. Young people are in a majority there and must be allowed to speak out!

What challenges await AFD in 2019?

Governance-related needs are waiting to be met. So if we want to speed up democratic transition, there’s no time to lose.

A lot has already been done within AFD, but it’s important that all of us—collectively with our partner countries, the technical and financial partners, the private sector, and the civil society organizations—continue to make progress at a faster pace on these issues.

Further reading:

The DRC Reforms Public Administration with ENA

Catherine Bonnaud: “The Palestinian Institutions Need a Solid Public Financing System”

Pépé Antoine Lama, When Eloquence Serves Justice