Ivory Coast: A research institute shoulder to shoulder with small artisans

Combining good social theory and development research with practical action in the poorest neighbourhoods of sprawling African cities — this is task which INADES of Abidjan (Institut Africain pour le Développement Economique et Social) has set itself. Founded in 1962 by Jesuits of the West Africa Province at the request of the West African bishops, the institute sponsors its own group ?Faith and Political Analysis? and boasts a well-stocked documentation centre in the social sciences. Since 1985 INADES’ department of social action in urban milieus (ASMU) has been supporting all sorts of small enterprises. In recent years political instability and economic crisis in the Ivory Coast have frustrated the work of small producers. It helps set up micro-businesses, organising them into formal associations and facilitating women’s access to credit. The work is backed up with surveys about women’s work, monitoring cost of living, and theoretical reflection. To prevent the social fabric from falling apart, the ASMU teams encourage neighbours to draw together, to build up community to the advantage of everyone, and get involved in local issues. The neighbours themselves define the project they want to carry out, so the project’s beneficiaries are also protagonists of change. The ASMU team limits itself to sharing know-how and offering methodological support, acting as a mirror to let the people become aware of their own problems and the resources they have, especially their own experience, which is their principal — but often overlooked — asset. See www.inades.ci [HL10205]