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04DJIBOUTI793 2004-06-09 08:45:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Djibouti
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E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) Summary: Pol/Econ officer and Self-Help Clerk
(SHC) traveled to the Southern districts of Dikhil and
Ali Sabieh, May 16 and 17 and to the Northern districts
of Tadjourah and Obock, June 1,2 and 3 to visit FY02
and FY03 projects for follow-up and close-out visits,
as well as initial visits for FY04 proposed projects.
Both trips were highly productive and fairly well
received by the different communities. The following
is a detailed trip report for both trips. End Summary.



2. (U) Ali Sabieh is one of Djibouti's smaller districts,
situated southeast of Djibouti City bordering both
Somalia and Ethiopia. The town of Ali Sabieh lies just
off the main trucking route into Ethiopia. The district
is home to the three refugee camps presently operating
in Djibouti - Ali Adde, Holhol and Aour Aoussa. The
population of the district engages mainly in farming and
herding of small livestock, though unemployment is a
large problem for those in the main town. This trend was
very apparent in all of the districts visited. The
region is in the higher elevations giving it cooler
temperatures than the lowland desert climates of Djibouti
City and the large middle portion of the country.
However, it still has the same arid landscape prevalent
throughout Djibouti and water, as usual, is a primary
concern. For these reasons the Self-Help projects chosen
in the Ali Sabieh district are especially vital to the
livelihood of the communities. From FY02 and FY03
Self-Help funds, Embassy Djibouti was able to fund three
projects focusing on water, farming and a sewing workshop
for unemployed women.

3. (U) In the small village of Dourreh, about 45 minutes
drive from Ali Adde, the community requested Self-Help
funds to reinforce and renovate existing wells, assist
farmers in purchasing tools and equipment, and conduct
training on soil and water conservation. The two wells
visited had been reinforced to provide greater protection
from the erosion caused by rains flowing through the Oued.

4. (U) The area immediately surrounding the Ali Adde
refugee camp is one that has very few sources for potable
water. Currently, the villagers have to use the well
inside the camp because it is the closest source to the
town. The community proposed building a well at another
watering hole nearby to the majority of herders and farmers,
however this site was claimed by the government so finding
a new site was necessary. The watering hole also happens
to be located on the edge of the Oued, which would have
inevitably meant that a flood could ruin the well
completely. This project is still underway, but the
association has chosen a new site in a more secure spot
along the Oued and has addressed the issue of
counteracting erosion from the rains. Once completed, it
will provide a great service to the local population.

5. (U) In the town of Ali Sabieh many women are without
jobs, as well as many men. The local women's association,
which is one of the most active in the community, proposed
a sewing workshop to train the young girls and women of
the town. The association uses a building in the old
Catholic center that is no longer in use as a place where
the women can come to work and display their products. The
sale of the products goes partially to the seamstress and
partially to continuing the sewing workshop. This
association also has used a loan from the Fonds
Djiboutienne de Development (Djiboutian Development Fund)
to start its own microcredit service to help local women
get their own businesses and ventures started. The
association started with a loan benefiting 20 women
participating in the microcredit service and has been able
to pay back the initial loan in full and expand the service
to benefit 45 women.

6. (U) Meetings with the town's various associations
showed many needs, but a distinct lack of coordination
among the different groups. Three different groups
expressed the need for youth sports venues and several
mentioned the need for computer training and access. One
group had purchased computers but couldn't pay for the
utilities necessary to run an information center, though
if the group housed the computers at the town's Centre de
Development Communitaire (CDC) it could have benefited
from the government paid electricity. Community leaders
expressed some doubts about the program, reflecting on
the lack of coordination and knowledge of the program
throughout the community in past years. Pol/Econ and
Self-Help Clerk (SHC) addressed their concerns and
highlighted the need for a better coordination, not only
among associations but between the community and the
Embassy. Pol/Econ emphasized that in past years there
may not have been a lot of interaction with the
communities, but that the reason for this trip was to
begin building a relationship with the community.



7. (U) Neighboring the district of Ali Sabieh is the
largest district in the country, Dikhil. Dikhil's
borders extend from the Ethiopian/Djiboutian border to
the Gulf of Tadjourah. Covering the mid-section of
Djibouti, the climate is hotter and more arid than that
of Ali Sabieh lending to many of the same concerns in
the communities and in the main towns. As in the other
districts, wherever there is a slightly cooler climate
and some vegetation nomadic herders and farmers can be
found. It is no different in Dikhil. The highest
levels of traffic to Ethiopia also have to pass through
Dikhil. This puts a heavy burden on the District's
roads, which in some areas are becoming more rough,
narrow and dangerous at night as more trucks travel
them. As in Ali Sabieh, Dikhil has not been very
active in the Self-Help program in the past years and
many of the same concerns were raised. In FY02 and
FY03, Embassy Self-Help funds were able to provide the
materials for three projects to their individual
communities. The rehabilitation of a youth center, a
soccer field, and a sewing center that was recently
inaugurated by the Ambassador.

8. (U) Many of the towns in the Dikhil district are
either isolated and far removed from the main roads, or
centered entirely on catering to the trucking industry.
For these communities, the youth is a major emphasis.
It is no surprise that alternative activities for youth
are a major emphasis when the 50 percent unemployment
rate is put next to the age ratios. Forty-three percent
of all Djiboutians are under the age of 14 and the median
age of the entire population is eighteen. Yoboki is one
of Dikhil's towns that has the major trucking route going
through the center of town. The community youth
association proposed the creation of a soccer field to
provide the youth of the area an alternative to the
vices that can sometimes come through with the trucking

9. (U) In stark contrast to Yoboki, As Eyla is so far
from the main road that a local guide was needed to find
the town. The heavy rains in April had made it
inaccessible, so several different roads were created to
bypass the damaged parts. In the middle of the desert
the community is well organized. The proposal from the
community was to rehabilitate the town's youth center so
that the large youth population would have some
alternative to keep children from delinquency. The
project was well ahead of schedule and once finished
will provide the youth with a library, a gathering room
and a place to study after school.



10. (U) Tadjourah is one of the larger districts in the
country, located in the Northern part of the country with
its borders extending from the Ethiopia to the coastline.
Tadjourah's landscape is mostly mountainous and has a
cooler climate than most of the other areas in the country
but still suffers from very limited rainfalls. The coastal
region of Tadjourah is able to support more vegetation
than many areas in Djibouti, which also support several
agricultural growers. There is a growing number of
fishermen taking advantage of this abundant resource in
the Gulf of Tadjourah. This industry is only recently
developing because of less supportive cultural attitudes
towards fishing.

11. (U) Tadjourah is by far the most active district in
the Self-Help program, having a total of ten projects
over FY02 and FY03. The community leaders consistently
submit a greater number of proposals than the other
outlying districts. Most of the projects focus on water
resources in hard to reach areas, though the town of
Tadjourah has a diverse range of projects to counter
the unemployment problem. Within the town limits of
Tadjourah, the Self-Help program has funded a
library/reading room for youth, equipment for a
vocational school, and a computer workshop. The Cardin
Vocational School, run by the Catholic church, was in
the midst of final exams when Pol/Econ and SHC visited.
The work coming out of these classes was very well done.
The center can accommodate 16 students for each
three-year program and has lodging for the students that
come from far out of town. The vocational school
teaches four disciplines: electricity, mechanics, carpentry
and masonry. Skilled workers in each of these areas are
in short supply throughout Djibouti.

12. (U) Site visits to the more remote projects involve
steep, rocky, twisting dirt roads that at times do not
look wide enough for a single vehicle. The village of
Ardo is at the base of the mountain that Bankouale, one
of Djibouti's remote tourist sites, sits on. The women
of the village rely heavily on the sale of their crafts
to passing tourists. The community's proposed craft
center located at the entrance of the village was about
half-way through construction and proceeding well.
The community will use this center to house the
villagers crafts and have the women take turns running
the center and baking for passers-by.

13. (U) Not so far from Ardo and Bankouale are the
hilltop towns of Assaya and Saoub. Water projects were
proposed for each of these villages. In Assaya, the dam
that was proposed has been completed and has already
proved effective. The community constructed a dam to
block silt from filling the natural watering hole and
deepened the hole. The last rains stayed in the watering
hole for 23 days, a drastic improvement from before. In
Saoub, the project to create two cisterns to collect
rainwater had been completed, though the second cistern was
destroyed in the last stages of construction by the floods
in early April. The first cistern was dry when visited,
but had held water for sometime after the floods.



14. (U) Obock neighbors the district of Tadjourah and
covers the most of Djibouti's Northern coastline.
Obock is even more arid than Tadjourah and is much
more desolate. Once the capital of Djibouti, the town
of Obock was one of the most badly damaged cities
during the civil war in the early nineties. This may
contribute to the feeling that the city and district
has been forgotten by the government and many NGOs.
Obock has not been very active in recent years,
according to one association leader because the
government and NGOs come and do not follow through
on their promises. The leader added that the town has
given up on outside help. Pol/Econ and SHC emphasized
that this was precisely the reason Self-Help would be
productive in Obock. SHC emphasized that there were
two projects already underway in Obock from FY03, both
focusing on developing farming and agriculture.
Pol/Econ and SHC were able to visit one of the completed
projects, which has seen some benefit but is
experiencing slight problems with management of equipment.
Pol/Econ and SHC advised the association sponsor on ways
to improve the situation.

15. (SBU) COMMENT: Post feels the Self-Help program is
making a significant impact on communities inside and
outside of Djibouti City. The concept of associations and
non-governmental civil society aid is new to the
Djiboutian culture but seems to be firmly taking root.
Proposals from larger towns like Tadjourah and Djibouti
City are consistently dynamic, creative and address
vital needs of the communities. Post believes that with
the recent addition of staffing to the Pol/Econ section
and the Self-Help program, it will be able to be more
visible in the outlying regions. The lack of an American
presence and the existence of only word-of-mouth knowledge
of the Self-Help program seemed to be the most often
mentioned shortcomings of the program. The success rate
of projects in Djibouti seems fairly consistent and the
program has had few serious issues arise over the course
of project implementation. Post feels Self-Help has
been and will continue to be a vital part Mission
Djibouti's success. END COMMENT.