Monday, 13 August 2007

Senegal, Tostan and FGM

I mentioned the organisation Tostan's work in Guinea last April. They work primarily in West Africa having started up in Senegal, but they also have programs in Sudan and Somalia.

Today they have been awarded The Hilton Prize, awarded annually to an organisation making extraordinary contributions toward alleviating human suffering anywhere in the world. It is worth $2 million (£750,000) which must be going to make a huge difference to their work.

It is especially good to hear this news because only last Friday IRIN published a report saying that female genital mutilation (FGM) was continuing in Senegal 10 years after villagers had claimed to abandon it. In fact, reading further in the article will reveal that a 2006 survey shows a 60% drop in the rate of FGM in villages which had been in the Tostan programme. That seems to be well on course for the UNFPA's aim to eliminate the practice within a generation, and for which the UN is setting up a $44 million fund.

It seems unrealistic to expect to change views which have developed over centuries in a relatively short time. They have been doing incredibly well to have achieved what they have so far but the prize money will allow them to do so much more. I would hope that the people administering the new fund will look at their successful methods.

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