General Assembly of the Wodaabe of Niger


Since 2004, the Wodaabe organize each year in September a general assembly, a kind of social, economical and cultural forum. Representatives of all Niger's Wodaabe associations gather their with traditional chiefs and the Wodaabe population to think about their situation and problems. Finally, representatives of other pastoralist people from within and outside Niger come to talk about their common situation.

The Wodaabe want to call attention to their needs as pastoralists and minority. At each assembly, government representatives are invited for an exchange. Several have honoured them with their presence at the past assemblies.

These gatherings are also an occasion to make their development projects known to partners from outside the country to get the help they need. Organizations active in Niger like UNICEF, DED, Vets without Frontiers, CARE ... have also been present to spread information.

At the same time, visitors can discover their rich culture with its singing, dancing and costumes. In that way, the event helps propagate the diversity of ethnical cultures in Niger.

The general assembly is organized in a different semi-sedentary Wodaabe site each year. In this way each group can show how they have organized themselves, the progress they have made and the existing needs. The first five editions were held in Tagoudoum (2004), Foudouk (2005), Adjangafat (2006), Tagayet (2008), Akkadi (2009) and et Belel Tanfirgan (2011).

The editions of 2007 and 2010 were cancelled because of the insecurity in the north of the country. Each time, a reunion of the collectif with representatives of its member associations and traditional chiefs was held, but without celebrations or visitors from outside the community.

Edition 2012: 25 - 29 September

For the edition of 2012, the General Assembly returns to Tagoudoum, where it was held for the first time in 2004. The organization will be in the hands of the local association Association des Eleveurs du Ténéré.

The Wodaabé finance their annual General Assembly with the contributions from visitors.

Tagoudoum is part of the Ingall rural community. It's 40 km south of the village of Ingall, in the Agadez region. It has a semi-arid climate. Rainfall is between 150 and 200 mm. The harmattan wind, hot and dry, blows from October untill April; then comes the mousson wind, equally hot but bringing rain. There is little surface water.

Short history
In the beginning of the 20est century, Wodaabe and Touareg (Kel Fedek and Kel Aïr) pastoralists started to bring big herds to the pools in the salty region of Ingall. When these started to dry out, they first used small manholes of about 2 meter. In the period between 1923 and 1953, the Wodaabe of the Bikoron'en clan, descendants of Babari Mohamed, became the main inhabitants of this place. In 1953 the colonial administration of Ingall dug them a well of 80 meter and ordered Bermo, son of Babari, to gather the Wodaabe and Touareg using this well under his authority. From 1953 until 1995 was a period of great pastoralist mobility because of the decrease in rainfall. Since 1996 started the process of sedentarisation, and some families founded the center in 1997, installing their chief there in 2000.

The Tagoudoum site About 850 people live in Tagoudoum itself, and about 3700 Wodaabe and Touareg pastoralist in its environs. There are about 1800 cattle, 1700 sheep, 2200 goats and 800 camels about. There is basic community infrastructure in the center:

The Special Programma of the President of the 6th Republic built a primary school (2001), a cemented well (2002), a borewell (2004, picture) and a health center (2008).

UNICEF constructed two classes and there is one 1 franco-arab class (picture: college students)

The Spanish association Wodaabe Niger financed a garden in Tagoudoum with drop-by-drop irrigation. Vegetables are grown there in all seasons.

The Association des Eleveurs du Ténéré, founded in 2000, takes care of the school meals and has contributed to the establishment of a weekly Friday market in Tagoudoum since 2 April 2011..