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04DJIBOUTI645 2004-05-03 06:50:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Djibouti
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.



E.O. 12958: N/A

1.(U) Summary: The Ambassador, Pol/Econ and Self-Help
Clerk traveled April 28, to the southern
city of Dikhil to inaugurate a Self-Help project for
the Dikhil Women's Union. Hosted by the District
Commissaire, the Ambassador toured Dikhil, including
several farms and the town's computer center.
Ambassador also met with the Commissaire and two of
the twelve Dikhil district parliamentarians. End Summary.

2. (U) In her first official visit to the outlying
regions, Ambassador Ragsdale, accompanied by Pol/Econ
and Self-Help Clerk, presided over the opening of a
Sewing Workshop for the Women's Association in Dikhil.
The Self-Help program gave a $5,000 grant to the
Association Development de la Corne d'Afrique, a
non-governmental organization led by a parliamentarian
from the Dikhil district, to finance a sewing workshop
for the Dikhil Women's Union. This grant was the first
in more than a decade given to benefit the Women's Union.
The sewing workshop had previously received a donation
of ten sewing machines from UNICEF. At the initial site
visit to the proposed project, most of these machines
were worn-out or non-functioning. The $5,000 grant
provided the sewing workshop with new equipment and
material. The women use their sewing center to display
and sell their products to visitors. The workshop will
also serve as a valuable teaching facility for the
town's young women and provide many with the
possibility of earning their own income.

3. (U) The Ambassador was escorted from the border of
the Dikhil district into town by the gendarmerie and
was met with a very warm welcome from the residents.
Ambassador met immediately with the District
Commissaire and two parliamentarians from Dikhil.
Following the meeting Ambassador opened and toured
the sewing workshop. They extended an official welcome
and Ambassador expressed her pleasure in having the
opportunity to meet the Commissaire and inaugurate the
center, which was followed by a visit to the town's
computer training center. Funded by a local
businessman, the center provides training in computer
applications to high school level students and
businessmen. The center also provides a connection to
the Internet, courtesy of Djibouti Telecom, though it
is only available to students and not all residents.

4. (U) The day also included a roundtable discussion
with other non-governmental organizations from Dikhil.
Comments from the many associations were appreciative
of American help and interest, but also offered a
local perspective on American activities. One
association representative commented that America
should work for peace throughout the world and not
practice favoritism. The secretary of the Women's
Union commented that it was good to finally see the
female side of American assistance. The secretary
nicknamed the Ambassador "a new mother to the Women's
Union." The secretary's reference to previous American
assistance was that of a well dug outside the city in
September 2003 by the Civil Affairs team at Camp
Lemonier. Another association head entreated the
Ambassador to not let this interest in Dikhil be the
first and last. Ambassador responded with brief remarks
on development and the rededication of U.S. commitment
to advancing rights and opportunities of women

5. (U) Following the roundtable discussion, the
Ambassador toured the area around Dikhil, including
two fruit farms and the well dug by the American
military. The well, the first half of a two part
project, was not in use. The parliamentarians and
farmers explained that the American part of the
project was to dig the 120 meter well and put in a pump,
but the second half of the project was yet to be
completed by the Office National des Eaux de Djibouti
(ONED). ONED's portion was to provide canalization from
the well to the surrounding farms and to the town.
There was no estimate on when this portion of the
project would start. The owners of the farms were part
of the Agriculture Society of Dikhil and were pleased
to welcome the Ambassador on a tour. Two of the farmers
who grew fruit gave the Ambassador bags of mangos,
lemons and limes to take back to the Embassy. A third
farmer presented the Ambassador with a baby goat as a
gift, presumably to eat, although it has recently been
adopted by an American officer at the Embassy.

6. (U) Dikhil is known as the "District of Unity"
throughout Djibouti. With a population of 70,000 and a
territory of 7,200 square meters, Dikhil's population
is a conglomeration of all of Djibouti's ethnic groups -
Somali, Afar and Arab. The Commissaire said, in his
meeting with the Ambassador before the inauguration, that
the Dikhil District is one of the few places in Djibouti
where the different groups live together as one community
and not merely cohabitate. The unique mixture of
populations has led the governing authorities in Dikhil
to create policies that all groups agree on. The
Commissaire also noted that because Dikhil has a large
portion of nomads in its population, it has tailored its
voting procedures to the nomadic heritage. The district
allows registration lists to be distributed to all
polling centers in the Dikhil district so that a nomadic
family is not tied to one single polling center, so long
as it is within the Dikhil borders.